By Christine Stuart and Nancy Chapman
NORWALK, Conn. – The fall election season is months away, but state Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) has his sights set on votes that won’t be cast in Norwalk.
Duff, who is serving his fifth term in the state Senate, said he is looking to become majority leader next fall, assuming he wins re-election.
“Over the last two years it’s something that I have been interested in and have worked quietly to build support amongst the caucus,” he said.
Sen. President Donald Williams (D-Brooklyn) announced earlier this week that he wouldn’t seek re-election in the 29th District this year, which will open up his leadership position in the Senate. Duff has been waging a quiet campaign for majority leader even though he was unaware change was in the air.
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said Duff has a strong working relationship with a lot of the senators.
“He’s a consensus builder, he’s pragmatic, and he’s a good leader,” Bye said Friday.
She said she thought Duff and current Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, who also is interested in succeeding Williams, would make a good a good team. She thought they would play well off each other.
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, who sometimes commutes with Duff to the state Capitol, said he would make a “great majority leader.”
Duff chairs the Energy and Technology Committee and is often times asked to fill in for Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who presides over the Senate, when she’s unavailable.
“He’s approachable and easy to work with,” Slossberg said.
Bye called Looney and Duff the “Dream Team” for the Senate Democratic caucus.
One Norwalk Republican said Duff still has to win the local election.
NancyOnNorwalk asked Pete Torrano, who is expected to become Norwalk Republican Town Committee chairman this month, if Duff’s reputed frontrunner status as the next state Senate majority leader would make it difficult for a challenger from either party.
“Good question,” Torrano said in an email. “On first thought, I would have to say ‘yes’ only because it will get his name in the press and allow him a pulpit from which to campaign and present himself as important in the senate. However, Bob still has to run on his record, and it should be that that any challenger, either side of the aisle should address. I would also have to believe that others would want that title, and I’m not so sure Bob is the favored person among his peers in the senate, and may lose out to someone else.”
Duff has a challenger in his own party as 19-year-old political newcomer Israel Navarro has filed papers to run against him.
Duff said it’s too early to speculate on what his majority leader status, if he gets it, would mean for Norwalk.
“I’m not going to talk about all of that yet because it’s still way too premature,” he said.