State Senator John Fonfara has what is considered a “safe seat” with usually only a token Republican candidate to face, if any. This year, the lure of $100,000 in campaign funds may bring a G.O.P. challenger, but raw registration numbers and a long incumbency make odds tough for any meaningful attempt at turning the seat in the general election in the fall.
However, the story is a bit different for a Democratic primary challenge because of demographic shifts and constant internal Democratic bickering and jockeying for influence. Edwin Vargas has been discussing the possibility of a candidacy against Senator Fonfara for some time and has uncovered some disenchantment based on perceived slights, oversights or just plain boredom with the status quo. The dramatic demographic change over the last decade or so in the South End of Hartford also opens a door, or so Vargas thinks.
All that said, two factors mitigate against a successful challenge: first, John Fonfara is a fearsome campaigner. If he feels the least threatened, he will knock on every door (virtually, anyhow) in the district, and call, snail mail, e-mail every voter the magic eight times. The public funds available for a primary, $35,000, mean a lot more when you have name recognition – and decades of service bring you just that. The second factor is the continuing low turnout of Hispanic voters. If Vargas is to mount a serious challenge, he will have to register new supporters, identify those who agree with him and literally march them to the polls, old time politics that are as current as these new voting machines.
And, let’s face it, Edwin Vargas (like many of us) is not exactly a new face. He has the scars and experience of many political battles, especially in teacher union elections. He is fun to talk to, personable and full of energy – he’ll need all of that and then some to take the prize of a “safe” Senatorial seat.