Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, D-CT5, said Monday that she won’t seek re-election in November. Her announcement comes a few days after she admitted to mishandling a 2016 abuse claim from one of her staffers, which prompted calls for her resignation from both Democrats and Republicans.
Esty, an outspoken advocate for the #MeToo movement, was put in the awkward position of having to apologize for not protecting a female staff member who was being sexually harassed and threatened by Esty’s then-Chief of Staff Tony Baker.
After an investigation, the Congresswoman eventually fired Baker. But she signed a non-disclosure agreement and paid him $5,000 in severance – and also gave him a recommendation for a new job.
The Congresswoman says she could have done a better job handling the situation, and she apologized for letting her female staff down. In her announcement on Monday, Esty said she’s determined that it’s in the best interest of her constituents and her family to end her time in Congress at the end of this year.
Gary Rose, a political science professor at Sacred Heart University, said the local pressure on Esty to resign would have made it difficult for her to win re-election in November. “The pressure came from the grassroots up, and that it superseded the support that she was receiving from Nancy Pelosi and the quiescence of Christopher Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, who apparently chose to remain silent on this issue.”
Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy released a statement calling Esty’s decision not to run for re-election “the right one.”
Geraldo Reyes, a Democratic state representative from Waterbury, which is in Esty’s congressional district, said, "She has worked very hard for this district. Unfortunately for her, the ways things are happening now in politics she's just the next person to fall by way of something that should have been handled a little bit differently."
Reyes says that members of that district have already gotten together to discuss the future of Esty’s seat and that they’ll know more in a week or so.
Political scientists says national Republicans are targeting the competitive Connecticut seat this fall.