Susan Bysiewicz’s decision not to run for the state senate has Democrats scrambling to find a candidate in the 13th Senate district.
Bysiewicz had formed an exploratory committee to seek state office and was planning to run for the 13th when she announced her decision to seek higher office, possibly governor. 13th district incumbent Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, has not announced his intentions.
Dante Bartolomeo, who Suzio defeated in 2016, has told Meriden Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Millie Torres Ferguson that she will not be seeking the seat.
“It’s a priority seat for us,” Torres Ferguson said.
The Democrat town committees in each of the five towns in the district – Meriden, Middlefield, Cheshire, Rockfall, and Middletown will gather to pick candidates in May, Torres-Ferguson said.
“I have spoke to several individuals who have expressed interest from all the towns,” she said.
Torres-Ferguson would not reveal the names, but several potential candidates have been mentioned.
Democratic City Councilor Brian Daniels recently announced he will not seek re-election to the council in 2019. He said this week he is not running for state office at this time.
State Rep. Liz Linehan represents the 103 House district, which includes Cheshire, Wallingford and Southington. Linehan said she had been asked to run in the 13th district and is “focusing on this session and representing the people of the 103rd (district) as best I can" she said. "I will absolutely make the decision sooner rather than later."
Linehan was on Daniel Drew’s gubernatorial ticket as lieutenant governor. Drew, who is the mayor of Middletown, left the race last month after failing to meet certain financial benchmarks.
Linehan said she is interested in hearing input from from district Democrats.
"I'm the anti Suzio," she said. "He is pretty far right, I'm certainly not. I think think that his record is the antithesis of mine, and I think people see us as natural opponents”
Cheshire Democrat Jim Jinks had expressed interest in the race, but said Friday “it’s not the best time for my familiy.”
Middlefield Democrat Town Committee Chairwoman Cheryl Pizzo said now that Bysiewicz is out of the 13th District race, the town committee will have to adjust its plans.
“We were all under the impression Susan was going to run,” Pizzo said. “We were hopeful because she would have been a good contender in that race.”
Bysiewicz campaigned in both Meriden and Cheshire as she reached fundraising benchmarks.
“The Cheshire Democratic Town Committee was encouraged that Susan was vigorously pursuing a run in the 13th,” said Chairwoman Judy Villa. “She had spoken before our town committee about raising significant funds toward the qualifying amount and that her exploratory efforts led her to knock on thousands of doors. Now that she has turned her attention to the gubernatorial race, we hope to hear from her again to explain her strengths in a crowded field of candidate hopefuls.”
“I’m completely and totally focused on the job at hand, which is getting Connecticut back on its feet right now,” Suzio said.
Suzio assumes Democrats will target him in November because “certain Democrats regard it as a Democrat seat.”