FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz wants to shout it from the rooftops as she takes her campaign across Connecticut seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2012.
"I am a real progressive and will fight to create jobs, bring the soldiers home from the wars and make sure veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan receive the health-care and social services they need, and the training to find jobs," she said.
And despite being part of the Democratic political establishment for more than two decades, with high name recognition in Connecticut, Bysiewicz is actually running as the underdog against U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy in a Senate race expected to gain national attention.
That's because it will be for the seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Joseph Lieberman , originally a Democrat, but an Independent in recent years who often voted with the Republicans.
Connecticut voters are anxious for a "real progressive" after Lieberman turn toward the conservative and the gridlock in Congress caused by the Tea Party and Republican extremists, Bysiewicz said.
"I can't tell you how many people tell me they are tired of the Senate representation they have gotten in recent years, and how badly they want a progressive Democrat representing them in the U.S. Senate who will fight for jobs, health-care and the social issues they deeply care about," Bysiewicz said.
Taking on Bush
Her reputation as a party insider is not accurate, she said.
"I don't think I have ever been popular or a favorite with the party insiders because I fight for the people, even when it's not always on issues the party wants me to take," said Bysiewicz. "That's why I have always been a favorite of the people. The voters know I am trying to do what's best for them."
Bysiewicz insists she has the best chance of gaining victory for the Democrats.
"Here's what I think I bring; a proven record of making things happen like when I was a state representative and got to the legislature in the mid-90's to pass one of toughest gift-ban laws in the country," she said. "I saw there was a lot of wining and dining of state legislators and lobbyists' contributions and I didn't like how the lobbyists were taking over."
In 2008 when then Sen. Obama was picking up momentum for the presidency, President George W. Bush placed a ban on voter registration drives at veteran's hospital, including in West Haven, Conn., she said.
"I was so incensed I got 25 secretaries of state across the country to fight it, and we were able to get President Bush's executive order banned," she said.
Prepared for a primary
Many believe Bysiewicz' biggest challenge will be to convince Democrats she was not permanently damaged politically last year by what the Huffington Post writes were a series of "missteps, beginning when she exited the governor's race in January as the early front-runner, tempted by a seemingly easier campaign for attorney general."
Instead, according to Huffington Post "Bysiewicz was knocked from the race in stunning fashion: Just days before the Democratic nominating convention, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that she lacked the requisite experience to be attorney general."
But for 12 years, Bysiewicz was one of the Connecticut's most popular secretaries of the state ever. She was known for being tough, but fair, and competent qualities she says she wants to take to the U.S. Senate.
"There is such dysfunction in Washington because of all the gridlock and I think the Senate needs people like myself who will not back down," Bysiewicz said.
As for the campaign, Bysiewicz said she hopes to gain her party's nomination at the May convention, but if she doesn't, she will "definitely primary" the official nominee, who many expect to be Congressman Murphy.
"I am prepared for him to get the nomination, and then have to beat him in the primary when the voters decide," said Bysiewicz, 49, of Middletown. "I think either way there will be a primary, and when it is all over I expect to be the Democratic nominee and win the election in November."
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