MERIDEN — City Democrats are supporting a retired educator and school administrator to run for the 13th Senate District.
Mary Daughtery Abrams filed paperwork to run after Susan Bysiewicz dropped out to run for governor. She is the wife of James Abrams, who represented the 83 House District from 1994 to 2005, when he left office and became a Superior Court judge.
The 59-year old former teacher and assistant principal has been around politics all her life. Her father was active in the party and once ran unsuccessfully for office. She was also involved in her husband’s races and legislative career, and understands the demands of campaigning and serving.
“I grew up in the area,” Abrams said. “I really care about it. It is the core of Connecticut, an entirely diverse community. I want to help find ways to make progress by getting people together.”
She has the support of the city’s Democratic Town Committee and has met with party leaders in Middletown, Middlefield, and Cheshire.
“They have been encouraging me to run,” she said. “Everyone is very excited about the possibility.”
The 13th district seat is currently held by state Sen. Len Suzio, a city Republican. Suzio has said he will not discuss the campaign until the current legislative session is over.
“I am very familiar with Mr. Suzio,” Abrams said. “I think it will become very clear where we disagree. I think I can do a much better job.”
Abrams was also motivated to run after the 2016 national elections and joins a record number of women looking to enter politics this year. Women currently make up slightly less than 30 percent of the state legislature, despite accounting for just over half of the state’s population.
“I’m very strong on women’s issues, but I don’t see them as a divide,” she said. “I would love to see more women running for office and I’m excited to see more men getting involved.”
Abrams could have a challenger for the nomination, though, as new resident Alex Tiktinsky is also considering a run for office. He said he would enter the race if he doesn’t think Abrams is capable of beating Suzio.
“I understand how a Democrat beats Len Suzio,” Tiktinsky said. “It’s going to be a tough race for any Democrat, he’s a formidable opponent.”
The district leans Democratic, and went for both Gov. Dannel Malloy, who won re-election over Republican Tom Foley in 2014 and Hillary Clinton, who lost to Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Suzio lost tight races in 2012 and 2014 and won by 800 votes in 2016.
City Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Millie Torres-Ferguson called Abrams a strong alternative to Suzio.
“Mary will spend the next several months trying to draw a distinction between her and Len,” Torres-Ferguson said. “We feel positive her message will resonate with voters.”
Tiktinsky, a 23-year-old campaign staffer who recently moved into the district from Fairfield, said he has already spoken with more than 700 voters in the district. He will continue speaking to voters and make a decision about a possible primary in four to six weeks.
“I’d like to see what the voters say,” Tiktinsky said. “I’m interested in seeing how Mary’s process goes.”