PLAINVILLE - State Rep. William Petit, R-22nd District confirmed to The Press he is discussing with family and friends the possibly of running for Elizabeth Esty’s U.S. congressional seat.
Esty announced Monday she would not seek re-election for her 5th District congressional seat following reports she mishandled abuse allegations involving her staff.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J. R. Romano confirmed that he has spoken to Petit about a run for Esty’s seat but the freshman state legislator has not made a decision. “I think he’s going to be a great candidate,” Romano said. “But he has to come to that on his own.”
Petit told The Press by text on Wednesday that he has not made a decision.
He would be joining a narrow field of candidates. So far only Manny Santos, a former Republican Meriden mayor, has officially announced his candidacy. Craig Diangelo, a New Britain Republican, recently dropped out of the race.
According to the Connecticut Mirror, former Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, a Democrat, was the first person to announce she’d vie for Esty’s seat after the three-term congresswoman announced she would not run again.
Petit, the sole survivor of a violent home invasion that killed his wife and daughters in 2007, is a popular state representative who regularly attends events within his district which encompasses Plainville and a portion of New Britain. He previously turned down a run for Esty’s congressional seat in 2014 shortly after his son was born. Petit remarried in 2012. His wife Christine owns a photography studio at a former Petit family store in Plainville.
Petit recently formally announced that he will seek re-election to his state representative seat and was actively fundraising for the campaign when Esty became embroiled in controversy.
He has excelled at being a legislator and would make a good candidate for Congress, his friends and Republican colleagues said.
“No matter what position, he would be fantastic,” said Plainville Republican Town Committee Vice Chairwoman Helen Bergenty. “He’s a brilliant man.”
Bergenty said she has not spoken with Petit about a potential run for Congress. He has also not spoken about a congressional run with Kathy Pugliese, the Republican chairwoman of the Plainville Town Council.
“He’s a very capable man, he’s a very thoughtful man, his skills are there and people admire him and hold him in high regard,” Pugliese said.
Petit’s name was bantered about Tuesday evening as a potential candidate for the 5th District seat during a New Britain Republican Town Committee meeting, said New Britain RTC Chairman Tony Cane.
“I was shocked though when I saw the text alert saying that he was possibly running,” said Cane who added that long-time Canton legislator Kevin Witkos was also considering a run. “This is a prime opportunity to take this seat. It makes sense (for Petit to run), he’s a very good candidate. He came before us last week and spoke about his re-election effort. If you had asked me a week ago if Esty would be in that situation, I would have said no.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.