Facing pressure from local Republican leaders, first-term Mansfield Republican town council member Mark Sargent is dropping his bid for State Senate in the 29th District and will run for the 54th State House District in Mansfield, according to a press release from his campaign.
“Mr. Sargent’s decision to run for state representative reflects his dedication to party unity and to the people of Mansfield,” campaign manager Anthony Patrone said in the press release. “Mr. Sargent looks forward to challenging the failed policies of Dan Malloy and bringing real change to Hartford.”
Sargent will face three-term state Rep. Gregory Haddad, D-Mansfield, in the race for the 54th State House District. Haddad won 68.1 percent of the vote in 2014.
The decision comes 11 days after Sargent announced he would challenge state Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, in the 29th District. Sargent faced pressure from local Republican leaders to drop his bid after the 2014 Republican nominee, Windham Board of Education member John French, announced his plans to challenge Flexer again.
French narrowly lost to Flexer by 520 votes in 2014 – 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.
Sargent announced his bid for State Senate less than three months after being sworn in as a member of the Mansfield Town Council. He finished ninth out of nine candidates running for the nine seats on the town council.
Local Republican leaders urged Sargent to reconsider his senate bid, pledging the full support of the party should he decide to challenge Haddad.
“If he wants to run for Haddad’s seat, we will bring the whole 29th District and get behind him,” said John Underwood, a representative for the 29th District on the Connecticut Republican Party’s state central committee. “We’ll work as hard as we can for him.”
French said he would “totally support” Sargent in a race against Haddad, adding that he hoped the two could be a “one-two punch” in campaign efforts to win the support of students at the University of Connecticut.
Sargent served as the president of UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government during the 2014-15 academic year.
Before dropping out, Sargent raised more than $2,500 for his senatorial campaign. John Kleinhans, a senior advisor to Sargent, said the donations would be returned.