Less than a week after Mark Sargent announced for State Senate, two local Republican leaders are saying they would rather see Sargent run for state representative instead of challenging Republican John French in the 29th District State Senate race.
The hypothetical race would pit Sargent against three-term Democratic state Rep. Gregory Haddad, who is currently running unopposed.
French, who was the 2014 Republican nominee for the State Senate seat in the 29th District, said he was thinking the same thing.
“I will totally support him,” French said. “I thought that was the position he should be going for. ... I know that senators up in Hartford, state reps in the local area, myself – we will work hard to support him to run against Gregg Haddad.”
French said his hope was that he and Sargent could be a “one-two punch” working together at the University of Connecticut to garner support.
Two local officials expressed a similar sentiment.
Charles Ausberger, a member of the planning and zoning board in Mansfield and a Republican activist, said he believed French was “the right guy for the (State Senate) seat.”
“I think that we had hoped (Sargent) would run against Gregg Haddad for rep,” Ausberger said. “I think that’s a better election for him to run for. ... I don’t think he’s going to have enough teeth to make it past Mae Flexer.”
John Underwood, who serves as a representative for the 29th District on the Connecticut Republican Party State Central Committee, promised strong backing from leaders in the state if Sargent made the switch.
“If he wants to run for Haddad’s seat, we will bring the whole 29th District and get behind him,” Underwood said. “We’ll work as hard as we can for him.”
Underwood said Sargent called him “a couple of weeks ago” inviting Underwood to attend Sargent’s campaign announcement Saturday. On the call, Underwood said he urged Sargent to run for Haddad’s seat instead.
Sargent said he believes his “efforts are best used at the State Senate level” and he has “the best chance” by taking on state Sen. Mae Flexer in the 29th District.
“The decision process wasn’t made overnight,” Sargent said. “This is something I’ve thought about for quite some time and I’ve discussed with several other people.”
He reiterated his claim that he believes he is “the best and most qualified” to take on Flexer in the general election. However, he would not close the door on running for State House, saying he is “open to listening to the concerns of every voter” about his campaign.