Mark Sargent, a first-term Republican on the Mansfield Town Council, will announce plans to run for State Senate in the 29th District as a Republican at a press conference Saturday, according to a source with knowledge of the campaign.
Sargent, who was the University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government president during the 2014-15 academic year, has served on the Mansfield Town Council for two and a half months since his election in November.
Sargent finished ninth out of nine candidates in his election to the Mansfield Town Council in November, receiving 739 votes out of 2,233 cast.
Incumbent Sen. Mae Flexer, a Democrat, was elected to her first term in 2014 after winning a tightly contest race against Republican John French. Flexer earned just under 51.1 percent of vote to French’s 48.9 percent.
Sargent fully anticipates a challenge in the Republican primary from French, the source told The Daily Campus.
Sargent first announced his intentions to run at a meeting of the UConn College Republicans on Feb. 2, according to the source.
Sargent plans to frame the campaign as a public servant versus a politician, the source said, adding that Connecticut’s struggling economy and budgetary crisis will be front and center in his campaign.
Should Sargent win the Republican nomination, the race would pit Flexer, a former president of the UConn College Democrats, against Sargent, a former president of the UConn College Republicans.
Flexer said she “welcomes the challenge.”
Sargent is expected to work with Octagon Strategy Group, a bipartisan consulting firm based out of Glastonbury founded by former Connecticut Republican Party Executive Director John Kleinhans, according to the source.
A native of Defreestville, New York, Sargent graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from UConn in 2015. He won the Undergraduate Student Government presidential election in 2014 with 51.3 percent of the vote. His opponent was later disqualified for campaign violations.
Flexer graduated from Quinebaug Valley Community College with an associate’s degree and then completed a bachelor’s in political science at UConn. She announced her state senate campaign in following the retirement of Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams in 2014.
Before her election to the state senate, Flexer served three terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives, where she represented parts of Killingly and Plainfield.
The 29th District contains portions of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson and Windham.
Several UConn students and recent graduates have run for state office in the past.
In 2010, two students who served in the Undergraduate Student Government challenged Democrat Greg Haddad and Republican Christopher Paulhus in the race to fill the seat in 44th District of the state House of Representatives.
The seat was being vacated by Denise Merrill, who had announced her campaign for secretary of the state. Haddad won the race with 3,930 votes out of 6,398 cast – 61 percent.
Jason Ortiz, then-president of UConn ACLU and former Undergraduate Student Government comptroller, received 909 votes while Brien Buckman, the incumbent Undergraduate Student Government comptroller, received 98 votes.