Jahana Hayes secured the Democratic nomination in the 5th Congressional District Tuesday, edging out endorsed candidate Mary Glassman.
“When we started this campaign a little more than one 100 days ago, we had no organization, no money, and no people,” Hayes told the cheering crowd. “People told me we had no chance and no business trying to uupset the status quo. And tonight we proved them wrong.”
Hayes held a 60 percent lead after 45 percent of the votes were totaled to declare victory in the 41-town district.
She was introduced by Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary and U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy to at packed ballroom at the Courtyard by Marriott in Waterbury.
“Is this a great night or what?” Murphy said. “I am so proud of my state, this district, and I am so proud of Jahana Hayes. She is going to fight for every single one of you.”
Hayes will now face the Republican nominee in the November election to see who will replace U.S. Rep. Elzabeth Esty, who announced in April that she won’t seek re-election after a controversy over her handling of complaints of abuse against her former chief of staff.
Votes were still coming in from around the district when state party Chairman Nick Balletto congratulated Hayes, the 2016 national teacher of the year, shortly after 9:30 p.m., on her victory.
“I want to congratulate Jahana on her well-deserved victory,” Balletto said in a statement. “I know and expect that over the next three months, no one will work harder to earn the vote of the 5th District.”
The 5th District encompasses 41 towns from the northwest corner to central Connecticut. A Democrat has held the seat since 2006, when Republican Nancy Johnson lost to now-U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy.
Hayes received some outside help from A New Promise political action committee in the form of campaign videos that linked her to former President Barack Obama. The video ads show Hayes being praised by Obama at a 2016 White House ceremony honoring her as the 2016 teacher of the year.
A win in the general election would make her the first African-American to hold the seat since Republican Gary Franks represented the 5th District from 1991 to 1997, and first black Democrat ever.
Tuesday had largely been a good night for Democrat-endorsed candidates, but that wasn’t the case for Glassman, who barely beat out Hayes in the May convention for the endorsement.
Glassman, a former journalist from New Britain, went on to law school and was elected first selectman of Simsbury from 1991-99, becoming the first Democrat to hold the post in roughly 40 years, and again from 2007-14. Glassman received the endorsements of progressive group Moveon.org and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday.
“Tonight is the beginning of the real fight for the soul of our nation, one that won’t come to an end until Nov. 6 when we take back the House and take back our country,” Hayes stated in a prepared statement.”