PLAINVILLE - State Rep. William Petit Jr., R-22nd District, confirmed Wednesday that he is discussing with family and friends the possibly of running for Elizabeth Esty’s seat in Congress.
Esty announced Monday she would not seek re-election for her 5th District U.S. House seat following reports she mishandled abuse allegations involving her staff.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano confirmed that he has spoken to Petit, but the freshman state legislator has not made a decision.
“I think he’s going to be a great candidate,” Romano said, “but he has to come to that on his own.”
Petit said by text on Wednesday that he has not made a decision.
He would be joining a narrow field of candidates. So far only Republican Manny Santos, a former Meriden mayor, has officially announced his candidacy. Craig Diangelo, a New Britain Republican, recently dropped out of the race.
According to the Connecticut Mirror, former Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, a Democrat, was the first person to announce she’d vie for Esty’s seat after the three-term congresswoman announced she would not run again.
Petit, the sole survivor of a 2007 home invasion in which his wife and two daughters were killed, is a popular state legislator who regularly attends events in his district, which consists of Plainville and a portion of New Britain.
He turned down the chance to run for Esty’s seat in 2014 shortly after his son was born.
Petit remarried in 2012. His wife, Christine, owns a photography studio at a former Petit family store in Plainville.
Petit recently formally announced for re-election to his seat in the state House and was fundraising for that campaign when Esty became embroiled in controversy.
He has excelled as a legislator and would make a good candidate for Congress, friends and Republican colleagues said.
“No matter what position, he would be fantastic,” said Helen Bergenty, vice chairwoman of the Plainville Republican Town Committee. “He’s a brilliant man.”
Bergenty said she has not spoken with Petit about a potential run for Congress, nor has Kathy Pugliese, the Republican chairwoman of the Plainville Town Council.
“He’s a very capable man. He’s a very thoughtful man. His skills are there and people admire him and hold him in high regard,” Pugliese said.
Petit’s name was talked about Tuesday evening during a New Britain Republican Town Committee meeting, said Chairman Tony Cane.
“I was shocked, though, when I saw the text alert saying that he was possibly running,” said Cane, who added that longtime Canton legislator Kevin Witkos was also considering a run.
“This is a prime opportunity to take this seat,” Cane continued. “It makes sense (for Petit to run). He’s a very good candidate. He came before us last week and spoke about his re-election effort. If you had asked me a week ago if Esty would be in that situation, I would have said no.”
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.