In Connecticutâ€™s only open congressional race this year, Democrat Jahana Hayes and Republican Manny Santos are hoping to represent the stateâ€™s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hayes, 2016â€™s National Teacher of the Year, and Santos, former Mayor of Meriden, have differentiated from each other often during their respective campaigns. The two have faced off in debates four times and have conveyed different viewpoints on topics live the environment, college debt and the countryâ€™s economy.
A former teacher who still works in the Waterbury school district, Hayes was encouraged to run for Congress by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-CT. When sitting down with The Herald earlier this year, Hayes said she thinks the timing is right for a candidate such as herself.
Hayes narrowly lost the Democratic endorsement to former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman in May but handily beat Glassman in Augustâ€™s primary election.
The candidate was a teenage mother who grew up poor before working her way through college and earning several degrees. A first-time politician, Hayes fits the makeup of what many have deemed the year of outsider candidates.
As a former educator still involved in schools, Hayes hopes sheâ€™ll be appointed to a commission on education if elected. The candidate has said sheâ€™d like to focus on making the economy great for everyone and making sure Connecticut gets its fair share of federal money. Pay equity and healthcare are also topics Hayes said sheâ€™ll be involved in.
Should she win Novemberâ€™s election, Hayes would be the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress, and the first such in all of New England.
Santos offers a stark difference to Hayes and has often aligned himself with U.S. President Donald Trump. The former Mayor of Meriden came to the U.S. from Portugal in 1974 and has called Connecticut home since then.
Santos was endorsed by the Connecticut Republican Party in May and beat his two GOP challengers in the primary election. The candidate has said heâ€™s in favor of most policies enacted by the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump, notably the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Santos said many regulations are stifling business, so heâ€™s in favor of eliminating certain environmental regulations that he says are overreaching.
Among other things, Santos said heâ€™d focus on continuing to strengthen the economy and supporting services and programs for veterans. Santos is a veteran himself, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years as a fighter jet mechanic.
The countryâ€™s immigration policy will also be one of his main focuses if heâ€™s elected. Santos is a supporter of strengthening the countryâ€™s southern border.
The 5th Congressional District is considered Connecticutâ€™s most competitive district. While the district usually votes Democratic in presidential elections, it has recently voted for Republican candidates for governor. Before U.S. Sen. Murphy, a Democrat, won the House seat, Republican Nancy Johnson represented the district for more than 20 years.
This is the only open congressional race in Connecticut this year. Democrat Elizabeth Esty announced she wouldnâ€™t seek re-election in April after news broke that she had not acted quickly after discovering that her former chief of staff had harassed a co-worker in her office.