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5TH DISTRICT HOUSE SEAT Llodra ponders run for Esty’s seat

April 30, 2018 GMT

NEWTOWN - Former First Selectman Pat Llodra, who guided the community through the darkest chapter in its history after the Sandy Hook massacre, is weighing a run for U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s seat.

“It is an intriguing idea and I am very honored to be asked, and I never dismiss anything out of hand,” said Llodra, 75, who retired last year to write, volunteer and spend time with her grandchildren. “I have to be very careful how I decide to use the time I have left, but I am going to respect those who asked me to consider this by giving it an appropriate level of attention.”

Llodra, a Republican, would not be the first high-profile figure to consider a run for the 5th Congressional District at the urging of GOP or Democratic Party leaders.

Last week, Sandy Hook Promise co-founders Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden of Newtown dashed the hopes of Democrats by announcing that neither of them would run. Hockley and Barden, who both lost sons in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, said their priority is their surviving school-aged children and the work of their home-grown nonprofit, which has become one of the premier gun violence prevention groups of its kind in the country.

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Their announcement followed news that the GOP State Rep. William Petit of Cheshire - who lost his wife and daughters in a 2007 home invasion - would run for reelection to the statehouse and not for Congress.

That leaves the state’s most competitive congressional district without a clear front-runner in either party, with two weeks until Democrats and Republican host party conventions.

Former Simsbury first selectman Mary Glassman and Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver, formerly of Newtown, plan to seek the Democratic nomination. Republican hopefuls include former Meriden mayor Manny Santos and political newcomer Ruby O’Neill, the vice chair of the state Commission on Equity and Opportunity.

The 5th District, which stretches from greater Danbury to the Massachusetts border and includes parts of central Connecticut, has been up from grabs since Esty dropped her campaign for a fourth two-year term.

Esty withdrew after admitting she covered up a harassment and abuse scandal involving her former chief of staff and female employees in her Washington, D.C. office.

Llodra meanwhile has been out of office only a few months and is already deep in volunteer work. She is the chair of a $6 million building campaign at her parish, St. Rose of Lima Church, and she was recently appointed to a commission that is overseeing a memorial for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, among other work.

“I am almost 76, and time is very precious to me,” Llodra said on Monday. “I have to be careful about activities that are going to gobble up my time away from my family and the life I hope to live for the next 10 years.”

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342