5th District Candidate's Political Future On The Rise
By STEVEN GOODE
August 24, 2012
HARTFORD —— Two more votes.
That's all that Brandon McGee needed to pull off one of the more surprising political upsets in recent history.
But despite his Aug. 14 Democratic primary loss to heavily favored, longtime political insider Leo Canty in the 5th House District – which McGee isn't conceding just yet – his politicial future looks bright.
"He's emerged from this as a star, a humble star," said former city councilman Steve Harris. "His political upside is unlimited."
Harris, who supported McGee in his run for the realigned district that was redrawn to include about 5,000 Windsor Democrats and 3,000 Hartford Democrats, said he wasn't surprised by McGee's strong showing in Windsor, Canty's hometown.
"He got 300-plus votes in Windsor," Harris said. "That says a lot."
McGee, 28, was running for his first political office, but he isn't new to politics. As a youngster growing up in Hartford, it wasn't unsual for him to be at his grandmother Barbara Long's side at political events.
"My grandmother was heavily involved in Hartford politics," he said.
McGee majored in political science at Alabama State University and worked as an intern for Democratic state Sen. John F. Knight, who was also vice president of the university. He worked in Knight's constituency department, where he developed his skills as a community organizer.
"I bring people together around common issues," he said.
McGee said he came to appreciate the political process even more after weathering a primary bid that saw him go from leading the race by 1 vote, to being tied, to losing by 1 vote after a recount.
"There are a lot of loopholes that allow people to interpret things their own way," McGee said.
That's why he hasn't made the concession call to Canty yet, he said, although he declined to elaborate on the delay other than to say that the campaign is considering its options.
Once he is sure that the proper recount procedures were followed, McGee said, he will accept the outcome – win or lose — and try to work with Canty on behalf of the district's residents.
"We need a unified message and a unified plan going to the capitol," he said. "It would do a disservice to our constituents to fight going into [legislative] session."
Canty, 59, who has jokingly adopted the nickname "Landslide Leo" — and who spearheaded the effort to realign the 5th House District to give Windsor a Democratic majority for the first time in 30 years — praised McGee and his campaign.
"He has done a lot in the community and we all need his energy and commitment put to work in ways we all can benefit," Canty said.
McGee said he plans to continue advocating for the residents of the 5th House District, especially in the areas of jobs, housing and taxes. And in two years, he expects to be making another run for the seat.
"I feel like I have a bright future," he said.
Harris, a retired Hartford firefighter who lives in the city's North End, agreed. But he said he would like to see McGee put his work ethic, knowledge of the issues and organizing skills to use on the city council before making another run for state office.
"These young guns are what the city needs," he said. "We need some serious focus on Hartford's issues."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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