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Watts hits $5K benchmark in apparent bid to make a run for Perone’s seat

State Rep. Chris Perone (D-Norwalk 137), left; Common Councilman David Watts (D-District A), right.

NORWALK, Conn. – The papers aren’t in yet, but Councilman David Watts (D-District A) has made an announcement – he has raised $5,000 in what may be a bid to run for state representative in next fall’s election.

It’s remarkably early to reach that benchmark, sources said, and may signal a primary battle for a state representative seat this summer. Rumor has it Watts is considering taking on 10-year incumbent Chris Perone for the 137th District, even if that means having to move from the 142nd District to qualify.

Watts’ announcement over Facebook and Twitter comes ahead of the Jan. 10 filing deadline for campaign fundraising reporting to the state. David Watts 2014, his exploratory committee, was registered in April 2013 and reported raising $3,482.05 in July. Watts needed to raise $5,000 to get a matching grant from the state through the Citizen’s Election Program, and has reached the benchmark amidst the municipal campaign season and the holidays, he said.

“I’ve been humbled by the response,” he said. “It’s really been a humbling experience. I mean people have really wished me well, and have contributed. I heard from a lot of people who are encouraging me to make the next step.”

What might that be?

“The next steps will be to announce that I will explore a state representative run,” he said. “Obviously there is still a lot of work to do between now and that point, but I’ve been humbled by the amount of money that I have been able to raise at this amount of time.”

Watts said many of his contributions are in the $5 and $10 category.

“I know compared to other races $5,000 doesn’t seem like a lot, but under this program of people giving you $5 and $10 it’s really about the people,” he said. “It’s about taking the money out of special interests and allowing the public to weigh in. that’s what’s cool.”

He needs 150 in-district contributors to qualify for a grant of $10,500 in addition to the $5,000 he has raised, he said. He has contributions from 100 people and pledges from more, so will make that benchmark in the next quarter, he said.

He said he has the support of the Democratic council members. Mayor Harry Rilling donated, he said.

Rilling acknowledged he had made a donation.

“Whenever I go to a fundraiser I always make a donation to the candidate,” Rilling said.

Perone acknowledged that he has heard Watts may run against him.

“He has an exploratory committee but he is looking and considering a race in his own district, and he’s talking about running against me for the primary and its raising my hand,” he said.

He hasn’t filed his campaign papers either, but he said he just hasn’t gotten started yet.

“I really just started, but that’s something I plan to do,” he said. “I plan to use the Citizen’s program as well. I will contact the people who supported me and make my case why I plan to run for election again. … There’s a lot going on in the (legislative) session and a lot going on in the state of Connecticut.”

The more, the merrier, he said.

“The point of the Citizen’s Election Program is to have more people getting involved in the election process,” he said. “From the standpoint of Citizen’s it’s working, but that’s really all I know because we haven’t had a conversation about it, we haven’t talked about it.”

In August, Watts said, “This is a way to bring maximum pressure to the city delegation and the powers that be because Norwalk has been shortchanged by the state. This is an attempt to, number one, bring awareness to state issues and continue to discuss issues that I feel strongly about, as far as the state goes.”

That appeared to be a reference to the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula.

Perone said he didn’t know of any local legislator who didn’t feel ECS was an issue, as Fairfield County and particularly Norwalk is shortchanged.

“It’s a good thing to talk about,” he said. “ECS down here is definitively a good thing to focus on.”

Money from the state needs to go directly to the Board of Education so there is no politics, he said. There are other issues: Legislators are focused on the reinvention of Connecticut’s economy, he said. It had been heavily focused on the defense industry and manufacturing but an effort is being made to attract bioscience industry, which would be synergistic with Massachusetts and New York, he said.

Perone is co-chairman of the Commerce Committee, vice chairman of the Finance Committee and is on the Energy and Technology Committee.

“The things that I’m focusing on, they are things that matter directly to Norwalk,” he said, citing housing, earned income tax credits and the ECS formula.

Councilwoman Phaedral “Faye” Bowman said she had donated to David Watts 2014, and indicated the ECS formula is part of the reason.

“I feel that the effort he puts in as a Councilperson and the effort he has put in so far in his campaign for state rep will carry over into his role as state rep, if elected,” she wrote in an email. “Norwalk needs to see more financial support from the state, especially when it comes to education, and someone as persistent and determined as Councilman Watts representing Norwalk at the state level can help make that happen.”

Former Councilman Matt Miklave also said he had donated to Watts committee.

“I believe in the free market competition of the Democratic Party. I think we should have debates about ideas,” he said.

He has worked with Watts on and off since 2005, he said, sometimes agreeing and sometimes not.

“He has some innovative ideas, he’s a passionate campaigner,” he said. “I think we should see what he stands for, what things are going on. I think David clearly has some new ideas about the role of the state representative in terms of service to the community. I would like to see more of these ideas. … David is not afraid of taking on challenges, even if it’s against the popular view. I mea, he doesn’t put up his finger and see which way the wind is blowing. I think that is a good approach.”

Comments

4 responses to “Watts hits $5K benchmark in apparent bid to make a run for Perone’s seat”

  1. Oldtimer

    Nobody questions David’s enthusiasm. It will be interesting to see how he makes out. Perone is no slouch, either. Getting more for Norwalk out of that ECS program will not be easy.

  2. YourDaddy

    It’s impossible to take a candidate seriously when you can’t even find any information about his qualifications (if any) online … only amateurish YouTube videos.

  3. LWitherspoon

    Are Bea Jones, Rikki Bobbi, or the many other usernames under which Mr. Watts has posted comments in support of himself among the list of contributors?

  4. WOW!

    @YourDaddy:
    Does a degree from Yale count as a qualification?

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