WALLINGFORD — Thirty-two years ago, Rosa DeLauro won her first election to represent the 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and this year she is hoping to win her 17th election for the seat.
To that end, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, she kicked off an election year tour of the district at Wood-n-Tap in Wallingford, telling supporters she wants to hear from them about what they feel Congress should be doing to improve their lives.
“Labor Day is over and we are six weeks to an election,” she told the crowd. “I’m very excited about it and what’s wonderful is we are here in person tonight. I get to hear from you, I get to hear your questions and whatever is on your mind.”
In the past, DeLauro hosted a bash at her Huntington Street home in New Haven for town committee members from the municipalities she represents, but now her children are grown, her house has been sold and she and her husband, pollster Stanley Greenberg, live in downtown New Haven, making such a get-together difficult.
So instead, DeLauro is conducting a tour of the municipalities she represents, meeting with town committee members and residents to discuss their concerns and strategize campaign plans.
“It has been an incredible couple of years,” DeLauro said, “with the unbelievable health care crisis we haven’t seen in a century. We saw loved ones in the hospital, loved ones who may have passed away, businesses shut down, people who lost their jobs, schools closed, kids were at home learning remotely. Our childcare industry almost came to a crashing halt, not only in this state but all over the country, people faced with the high cost of health care, housing, education, and struggling. People were on the economic edge before the pandemic and what the pandemic did was to throw them right off the cliff.
“Even though we’re working our way out of the pandemic, we are now in a situation, and people have to understand that we know that people are living paycheck to paycheck,” she continued. “This is not a case where this is the greatest economy in the universe and everything is going hunky-dorey. People are suffering and as Democrats, we have to acknowledge that and that we’re working on it.”
One problem is the monopolies a small number of companies hold over vital markets, DeLauro said.
“We have the biggest and the wealthiest corporations who rig the game every single time,” she said. “As far as gas goes, there are four or five companies that rule the world and you should know they’re making profits hand over fist and what they have done is restrict the supply to drive the costs up. And the same with food prices - the same consolidation of power. It’s not the marketplace that is making the decisions, it’s the corporations.”
DeLauro is facing Hamden Republican Lesley DeNardis, a member of the Hamden Town Council who has previously served on the Hamden Board of Education and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Her name is one very familiar to 3rd District residents — her father Lawrence DeNardis was the last Republican to represent the district in the House of Representatives. He was elected in 1980, the same year President Ronald Reagan won his first term. Several years later, DeNardis was appointed an assistant secretary in Reagan’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and he later served for many years as the president of the University of New Haven.
Lesley DeNardis taught political science at Sacred Heart University and was the director of the Institute for Public Policy and the Sacred Heart University Poll. She couldn’t be reached for comment but outlines on her website, lesleyforcongress.com, why she decided to run for her father’s old seat.
“I’m running for Congress because I have witnessed our once great state in decline,” she says. “Over the last 30 years, Connecticut has become unaffordable with residents struggling to pay the bills as the cost of daily goods and services have soared to record highs made worse by our heavy tax burden.
“The last few years have tested Americans’ patience with a flood of government mandates, increased federal spending, rising prices and rampant crime affecting all our communities. Everyday Americans feel a loss of control over their lives.
“While they struggle to pay their bills and deal with crime rates that threaten their physical security, our current representatives have no solutions. I have traveled the district and listened to residents who are frustrated that our elected officials do not understand their struggles.
“As a concerned citizen and political outsider, I can no longer watch from the sidelines,” she says. “I have decided to enter the race to offer commonsense solutions to Congress.”
While DeLauro has won every election to retain her seat since she was first elected in 1991, the campaign will not be complacent, DeLauro campaign manager Chris Carroll said. “We are taking nothing for granted,” he said.