Connecticut Likely to Send Its First African-American Democrat to Congress

Jahana Hayes won the Democratic nomination for the 5th District

Jahana Hayes, whom former President Barack Obama named teacher of the year in 2016, won the Democratic nomination for Connecticut's 5th District on Tuesday night. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Teacher Jahana Hayes has won the Democratic nod in Connecticut’s 5th District, defeating the party-endorsed candidate and setting her up to be the likely new member from the safe Democratic seat next year.

With 44 percent of precincts reporting, Hayes led 2006 lieutenant governor nominee Mary Glassman 60 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.

Hayes is poised to become the first African-American Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress. Running with the backing of organized labor, she is expected to add a progressive voice to the House Democratic Caucus.

Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty opted to vacate the western Connecticut seat after coming under criticism for her handling of a former top aide who was accused of sexually harassing and threatening a staffer.

Glassman had the baking of the state party. A former first selectman ;of Simsbury in suburban Hartford, she was also endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Hayes was encouraged to run by Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy and had support from African-American members of Congress, including California Sen. Kamala Harris and Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The 2016 national teacher of the year, Hayes had the backing of organized labor groups such as the Service Employee International Union, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

Esty narrowly won the seat in 2012, but was comfortably re-elected in 2014 and 2016. Hillary Clinton carried the district by 4 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic.

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