In seeking re-election, state Rep. Ernest Hewett of the 39th District is facing an unusual challenge from within the Democratic Party in the Aug. 9 primary.
Hewett seems miffed that Chris Soto would challenge him for the job in the House of Representatives, rather than dutifully awaiting his turn until Hewett decides to step aside.
“Why run against me now? I’ve been in Hartford 12 years,” Hewett, 60, asked at their July 20 debate.
Unknowingly, Hewett answered his own question. It is healthy to the process to see a candidate challenged after so many years of easy victories. In this city dominated by the Democrats, a serious challenge could likely have only come from within the party.
Soto had another good answer why he was running: “Public service.”
Soto, 35, can do the job. Even Hewett recognizes that. He once asked Soto to run his campaign. Soto declined. Hewett concedes he was prepared to endorse Soto if he one day ran for the 39th seat, but only if he waited his turn.
A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Soto served five years in that service. He later obtained a Masters in Public Administration from Brown University. He is the founder and director of Higher Edge, an organization that guides the region’s low-income and first-generation college-bound students as they pursue a higher education and strive for their American Dream.
As a member of the state’s Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, he is well versed in the needs and challenges facing the Latino community, certainly pertinent given the city’s large and growing Latino population.
On many of the issues the candidates are close, hewing to the Democratic line, though with Soto eager to explore new ways of running the government more efficiently and Hewett dismissive of such talk, contending most every idea has been tried and rejected because it didn’t work or couldn’t get the votes.
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