Two days before Democrats gather in Hartford to endorse candidates for state office, attorney general candidate Chris Mattei snagged his second major New Haven endorsement.
This one came Wednesday morning from New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney.
Looney, the Senate’s president pro tem, praised Mattei’s commitment to social justice during a press conference outside the federal courthouse on Church Street. Just one building up the block, Mattei two weeks ago won the endorsement of 25 out of 30 New Haven alders in his quest for the party nomination.
Four candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination for attorney general: Mattei, William Tong and Clare Kindall, and Paul Doyle. Mayor Toni Harp has endorsed Tong, her former colleague in the state legislature.
“I’m here today to happily announce my endorsement and strong support for the candidacy of Chris Mattei,” Looney said at the press conference. “I do that with the great conviction because what Chris did in his life before the spotlight was on him is an indicator of what he will do as an attorney general.”
Looney said that Mattei’s work as a teacher in the Native American reservation and an organizer for Service Employees International Union shows “where his heart is and where his principles are.”
Looney emphasized the need for a strong and aggressive attorney general in the time when the federal government is “being antagonistic towards progressive states like Connecticut.” Mattei is most suited to be a leader in the movement of resistance against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the federal justice department, Looney argued.
“We need a strong crusading attorney general like Chris Mattei to put up resistance against Jeff Sessions and other members of the Trump Administration whose values do not reflect humanity,” Looney said afterwards. “As we’ve seen, at the state level, active, aggressive and creative attorney general can do a great deal to resist federal policies that are damaging.”
Mattei called the senator’s endorsement a “special honor” because Looney is “loved by everyone in Connecticut.” Mattei also promised that if he is elected as the next attorney general, he will defend the progressive work that Looney and his colleagues have already done.
“We’ve been trying to deliver a message to every corner of the state,” Mattei said. “Whether it be a small town in eastern Connecticut like Sprague or a big city like New Haven, communities have been struggling and need a strong advocate, especially now when so many forces are aligned against their interest. We’ve reached out to every county in the state and feel a strong momentum going into this Saturday.”
Mattei called New Haven “a very significant place” where Democrats need to do well. The city traditionally produces the largest number of votes for Democratic candidates in statewide races.
Candidates who win more than 15 percent of the votes at the convention this Saturday will automatically qualify for an Aug. 14 Democratic primary. Other candidates need to collect Democratic voters’ signatures on petitions to qualify.