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Friday, February 15 News

Citing job and family, D’Amelio rethinks taking on Duff

NORWALK — Norwalk Republican Marc D’Amelio, a businessman and former school board candidate, has abandoned his brief candidacy for the 25th District seat in the state Senate.

D’Amelio registered himself as a candidate with the Secretary of the State’s Office on Jan. 27, but by Friday had reconsidered his bid.

“These past few days have been fueled by excitement and enthusiasm; however after taking a step back and focusing on the task at hand, I have recognized that my career and family commitments outweigh my ability to run,” D’Amelio wrote in an email. “I wanted to make this announcement quickly to afford other candidates in the Norwalk Republican Party the opportunity to run.”

D’Amelio likely would have faced incumbent Democrat Bob Duff, who has represented the 25th District since 2005 and is majority leader in the state Senate. In January, Duff filed paperwork with the Secretary of the State’s Office, declaring himself a candidate for the district, which covers Norwalk and part of Darien. He declined to speak about D’Amelio’s candidacy, but indicated he welcomes another challenger coming forward.

“It continues to be an honor to represent the people of Norwalk and Darien, and I still believe I can contribute to the good of the district and the state and want to keep fighting for a better Connecticut,” Duff said. “Democracy is best served when there is a variety of opinions and we get to debate the issues, and I look forward to running a positive campaign.”

The Norwalk Democrat said his priorities, if voters return him to office, will be education, transportation, paid family medical leave, gender pay equity, growing the economy and to “fight for the middle class.”

Over the years, Duff has defeated a number of Republican challengers, most recently businessman Greg Ehlers, of Darien, in November 2016. Duff received 60 percent of the vote; Ehlers got 40 percent, according to the Secretary of the State’s Office.

Two years earlier, Duff defeated Bill Dunne, a former corporate communications writer who then sat on the Norwalk Planning Commission, to win a sixth term.

However, Republicans are hopeful whomever they put forward will have the wind to their back given that Democrats control the governor’s office and the Legislature amid state budget deficits and a transportation funding crisis. A recent Morning Consult poll found Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to be the second-least popular governor in the nation with an approval rating of 23 percent.

“I think the climate is little different,” said Norwalk RTC Vice Chairman John Romano. “I think the shininess on his (Duff’s) arm is wearing off. And really, he’s right there with Malloy and Malloy has destroyed the state.”

At the same time, Romano expressed no certainty Republicans will find someone to take on Duff.

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“To run for political office, you almost have to have nothing to do in your life,” Romano said. “Marc has an extremely dynamic, well-accomplished, busy beautiful family at home and a growing business. He would have done a phenomenal job, but he’s otherwise disposed with other responsibilities.”

D’Amelio was the top vote-getter among Republicans running for four at-large seats on the Norwalk Board of Education in November, but lost by placing fifth in the overall race. He indicated Monday he might run for political office in the future.

“My heart is in helping the city and helping for the state,” D’Amelio said. “I'll still be part of Republican Town Committee. I will definitely be involved.”