As he easily gained a sixth term Tuesday, U.S. Rep. John B. Larson said he might seek a higher leadership position in Congress.
If U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., gets a job in a Barack Obama administration, as has been rumored, Larson, vice chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said he would campaign for chairman of the caucus — the fourth-highest Democratic post in the House.
In his 1st District race, Larson, 60, currently the fifth-ranking House Democrat, overwhelmingly defeated Joe Visconti, 51, a first-term Republican councilman in West Hartford known for his opposition to the Blue Back Square project, and Green Party candidate Stephen Fournier, a 63-year-old lawyer from Hartford.
In recent years, Larson has had few serious challenges in the district, where 180,000 Democrats are registered, compared with 70,000 registered Republicans and 156,000 unaffiliated voters.
Larson attributed his victory Tuesday to voters' concerns about the economy, and he cited his ability to secure federal dollars for fuel cell technology, Pratt & Whitney and other Connecticut manufacturers.
Looking ahead, he said, "We need to enhance job opportunities in the state. We are going to need a recovery package" quickly to turn around the economy.
Larson out-raised and outspent his opponents during the campaign. As of Oct. 15, he had raised $1.5 million and spent $1.2 million, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website operated by the Center for Responsive Politics. Visconti had raised $12,143 and spent $10,605, the website said. Fournier said he raised $2,000 and spent about $1,400.
Larson has been credited with helping Hartford's Coltsville be designated as a national historic landmark and for securing funding for the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology in his hometown of East Hartford.
Visconti, a self-employed contractor and community activist who favored tighter enforcement of immigration laws, said it was difficult to win in the district as a Republican, and tough to raise enough money to compete with an incumbent congressman.
He said he will likely challenge Larson again in two years.
"I probably will do it again, but I would have to start soon," he said.
Fournier, a former member of the Hartford Board of Education, spoke out against corruption on Wall Street, in the media and in government.
Fournier, in conceding, attributed the loss to Larson's popularity.
"Most people don't know me," Fournier said. "That's understandable."
Fournier said the Green Party hoped to get at least 3 percent of the vote in the 1st District Tuesday to secure a spot on the ballot two years from now.
"Then we'll recruit a candidate with star power," he said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times