Skip to content

‘Ready for the fight’: After narrow loss in 2022, Logan aims for Hayes’ Connecticut House seat

Incumbent Democrat intends to make Donald Trump a focal point of race

George Logan, left, Republican candidate in Connecticut’s 5th District, talks with Luis Gutierrez, an employee at C-Town Supermarket in Danbury, Conn., on April 27.
George Logan, left, Republican candidate in Connecticut’s 5th District, talks with Luis Gutierrez, an employee at C-Town Supermarket in Danbury, Conn., on April 27. (Daniela Altimari/CQ Roll Call)

DANBURY, Conn. — In this deep-blue state, Republican George Logan came unexpectedly close to defeating Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes after a late surge in 2022.

Logan is running again, and this time, he’s making an early and aggressive push for the 5th District seat. “I’m ready for the fight,” he told a group of supporters at a local diner on a recent Saturday. “Last election cycle, we lost by less than 1 percentage point and we were outraised 3-to-1.”

For the GOP, the race represents a tantalizing potential pickup in a state that hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since Rep. Chris Shays lost in 2008. 

Logan, who was unanimously nominated at a party convention on May 20, outpaced Hayes in the last two fundraising quarters, though she had more than $1.4 million in the bank as of March 31 to his $740,000. And he will get outside help: On Wednesday, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a group aligned with House GOP leaders, announced an initial ad reservation of $1.1 million in the Hartford market; Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has already made a swing through the district to raise money for Logan.

But Logan, a former state senator and water company official, faces strong headwinds in a presidential election year with Donald Trump on the ballot. President Joe Biden won the 5th District, a lobster claw-shaped district covering the western half of the state, by almost 11 percentage points in 2020. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Democratic.

“This campaign is going to be overwhelmed by the top of the ticket,” said Jerold Duquette, a political science professor at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. 

Logan’s run illustrates the challenges facing blue-state Republicans from New York to California who are crucial to the party’s goal of maintaining control of the House. As a group, they have sought to portray themselves as bipartisan bridge-builders from the GOP’s governing wing who reject the headline-grabbing antics fomented by some prominent members of the House Republican Conference.

“My plan is to work across the aisle, whether it’s with Jeffries or Johnson, to solve our common problems,” Logan said, referring to House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He brushed off questions about Trump, saying he intends to focus on the district.

Hayes, a former national teacher of the year who in 2018 became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Connecticut, dismisses Logan’s efforts to seize the moderate mantle. She says he will have to take a stand on contentious national issues, including whether he backs Trump.

“You can’t run for federal office without having an opinion about the top of the ticket, without having an opinion about Republicans in the House and without having an opinion about some of these national issues that I have to vote on,” Hayes said in an interview. 

Even without a hard-to-ignore presidential candidate atop the ballot, New England has been unfriendly terrain for Republican congressional candidates in recent years. In the 2022 midterm elections, the party invested energy and resources to compete for an open seat in Rhode Island, unseat a Democrat in northern Maine and defeat Hayes. The GOP came up short in all three races, though Logan’s loss was by far the narrowest.

“This is the most competitive district in Connecticut, but I don’t think it will be as competitive as last time,” Duquette said. 

He also questioned Logan’s strategy of running to the middle in hopes of picking up support from political independents and disaffected Democrats. “He’s running as an independent thinker at a time when that’s not actually an attractive thing to voters,” Duquette said. “Voters are more partisan, and more keyed into the partisan stakes in this election, than they’ve ever been.”

Logan’s appearances with GOP leaders undercut his image as a moderate, said Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who has backed Hayes since her initial run in 2018. 

From left, Connecticut Democratic Reps. Jahana Hayes and Rosa DeLauro and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California are pictured on May 17, 2022, at the Capitol during a news conference about legislation to address a baby formula shortage. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“His decision to parade Mike Johnson around Connecticut was crystal-clear evidence that he’s going to facilitate and empower all of the worst things that national Republicans are trying to do,” Murphy said. “The national Republican Party is more antidemocratic, more anti-choice and more anti-environment than it was two years ago, and with Donald Trump on the ballot, it’s a different vibe than 2022.”

National politics have long cast a shadow over the 5th District. “In the end, it is what killed me,’’ said Nancy Johnson, a centrist Republican who served in Congress from 1983 to 2007. 

Johnson survived the pull of former President Bill Clinton’s coattails in 1996 and a difficult battle in 2002, when her old 6th District seat merged with the 5th. But following an onslaught of negative ads, she lost to Murphy in 2006, when discontent with then-President George W. Bush and the Iraq War resulted in a blue wave for Democrats.

Logan, Johnson said, is the kind of Republican who can succeed in Connecticut, where voters prefer a more balanced approach. “The hard-line of the Republican Party is no crazier than the hard-line of the Democratic Party,” she said. “I think some of the people who were consistent supporters of Democrats are beginning to get it.”

Logan says voters in the district — the majority of whom aren’t registered with either party — are deeply dissatisfied.

“Even though inflation is not rising as fast as it was, it’s still high and grocery prices haven’t come down at all,” Logan said as he walked through C-Town Supermarket, which serves Danbury’s large Latino population. 

The son of immigrants from Guatemala, he switched easily from English to Spanish as he greeted customers and handed out his card. “A lot of folks feel that ‘Bidenomics’ hasn’t helped,” Logan said, referring to the White House’s name for the president’s economic record and agenda. “People are tired of the status quo; they want a change.”

‘People like Trump and Biden’

Democrats hold every statewide and federal office in Connecticut, but the numbers don’t fully reflect the complex political crosscurrents that shape the rural hilltowns, upscale suburbs and brawny, blue-collar cities that make up the 5th District.

“There’s a lot that people are upset about,” said Scott Leddy, a commercial print broker from New Milford who is volunteering for Logan’s campaign. He ticked off a litany of complaints: the cost of gas and groceries, a “broken” immigration system and Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. (The college debt relief proposal was struck down by the Supreme Court last year.) 

Paul Murphy, a Republican Town Council member from New Milford, said he’s disenchanted with both presidential candidates. “It’s a sad country when we got people like Trump and Biden running for politics,” he said. “Where the hell have we gone wrong?”

He backs Logan and believes he’s the type of consensus candidate who can appeal to members of both parties.

The campaign has already kicked into high gear. 

Logan has denounced Hayes for meeting with the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose founder was condemned by the White House for “shocking, antisemitic statements” following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks inside Israel that killed 1,400 people. 

The two candidates have also tangled over abortion access. Logan said he opposes a national abortion ban and touts his “perfect rating in terms of supporting reproductive rights” while serving in the state Senate. But during a debate in 2022, he said he did not believe an effort to codify abortion access would pass constitutional muster.

“I hear people say that he is pro-choice … and that may be all well and good but … he said he would not vote to codify Roe on the federal level, and that’s where a congressperson would have to weigh in,” Hayes said.

Hayes says she’ll also highlight her own legislative achievements, such as a bipartisan bill signed into law in 2022 to expand access to baby formula during a national shortage, as well as Biden’s economic agenda.

But she also aims to convince voters that electing Logan would empower a Republican leadership team that’s far to the right of most 5th District voters.

“In essence, what this next election is about is asking people to reward bad behavior,” Hayes said, “to keep the Republicans in the majority in the House when they have failed to legislate.”

Recent Stories

At Aspen conference, a call to prioritize stopping gun violence

Appeals court rules preventive care task force unconstitutional

Key players return to Congressional Softball Game, this time at the microphone

Bannon asks Supreme Court to keep him out of prison

Her family saw the horrors of the Holocaust. Now Rep. Becca Balint seeks to ‘hold this space’

Supreme Court clarifies when a gun law is constitutional