Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D)
Connecticut 3rd District
The beginnings of Connecticut’s defense industry date to more than two centuries ago, in 1798, when Eli Whitney, a young Yale graduate, won an order from the young United States government to produce 10,000 muskets at $13.40 each. Six years before, Whitney had invented the cotton gin, which revolutionized the South but for years embroiled him in a patent suit. On the musket contract, he was determined to make a profit right off, so he set up a system of interchangeable parts and invented a milling machine and gauges: the birth of standardized American manufacturing. It also launched New Haven, established more than 150 years earlier as a religious haven for strict Puritans, as a manufacturing center; Whitney set up his factory along a small, rapidly flowing river just north of town. For the next 150 years or so, New Haven mass-produced rifles, clocks, locks, hardware and toys—anything its tinkerers and entrepreneurs could fashion. Few factories remain in New Haven, and the state’s defense contracts are modest compared to those of the city’s heyday. The factory that produced Winchester rifles and guns for 140 years closed in 2006. The Sikorsky plant in Stratford failed to get the contract to produce the new Marine One helicopter. In recent years, southern Connecticut around New Haven discovered a new source of prosperity in scores of small technology and biomedical firms. Minority population grew rapidly in New Haven County from 2000 to 2007, with a 29% increase for Hispanics and a 46% increase for Asians.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
But the city itself, with significant crime rates and many neighborhoods scarred by abandoned homes, has shrunk in population: It had 164,000 people in 1950 and 124,000 in 2007. Nearly 29% of its children live in poverty. Yale, with its Gothic spires and redbrick halls, has always been the visual focus of New Haven and is now its largest employer. Some local revival has been sparked by a state development program that has turned old retail and office buildings into residences and by $1 billion in investments by biotech firms. New Haven also has a more recent claim on history: It was the birthplace of George W. Bush in 1946, and he lived his first two years on Hillhouse Avenue in a building that now houses the economics department.
The 3rd Congressional District of Connecticut covers the New Haven metropolitan area, which has long since spread beyond the narrow city limits into what were once Yankee villages and countryside. New Haven proper cast only 13% of the district’s votes in 2008. For many years, the 3rd was a marginal district, changing partisan hands in the 1980s as well as in the 1940s and 1950s. But it is now a strongly Democratic district. In recent presidential contests, Barack Obama got 63% of the vote here in 2008, and John Kerry won 56% in 2004 against fellow Yale graduate Bush.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D)
Elected: 1990, 10th term.
Born: March 2, 1943, New Haven .
Home: New Haven.
Education: Marymount Col., B.A. 1964, London Sch. of Econ., 1962-63, Columbia U., M.A. 1966.
Family: Married (Stanley Greenberg); 3 children.
Professional Career: Exec. asst., New Haven Mayor Frank Logue, 1976–77; Exec. asst. & develop. admin., City of New Haven, 1977–79; Chief of staff, U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, 1980–87; Exec. dir., Countdown '87, 1987–88; Exec. dir., EMILY's List, 1989.
The congresswoman from the 3rd District is Rosa DeLauro, first elected in 1990. She is well connected in New Haven and Washington. She grew up in New Haven’s Wooster Square. Both her parents were New Haven aldermen. Her mother, Luisa DeLauro, retired from the Board of Aldermen in 1999 after 35 years, the longest tenure in New Haven history. Rosa DeLauro’s husband, Stanley Greenberg, was Bill Clinton’s chief pollster from 1991 to 1994 and worked for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000 and John Kerry’s in 2004. Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel lived in the couple’s basement apartment on Capitol Hill when Emanuel was a House member commuting between his Illinois district and Washington. (Emanuel dubbed himself “The Hobbit.”) Emanuel also officiated at the wedding of Greenburg’s daughter Anna, who is a political consultant. DeLauro has been in politics nearly all of her life. She was a development administrator in New Haven in the 1970s, chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd from 1980 to 1987, then spent a year working to stop U.S. military aid to Nicaraguan contras before going on to become director of EMILY’s List, the women’s campaign fundraising group. When 3rd District incumbent Bruce Morrison ran for governor in 1990, DeLauro ran for his seat and won, 52%-48%, over anti-tax and anti-abortion rights state Sen. Tom Scott. Her last serious competition came in 1992, when she won a rematch against Scott, 66%-34%.
|Rosa DeLauro (D-WF)||230,172||(77%)||($1,098,930)|
|Bo Itshaky (R)||58,583||(20%)|
|Ralph Ferrucci (Green)||8,613||(3%)|
|Rosa DeLauro (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (76%), 2004 (72%), 2002 (66%), 2000 (72%), 1998 (71%), 1996 (71%), 1994 (63%), 1992 (66%), 1990 (52%)
DeLauro has a consistently liberal voting record, is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is one of the Democratic leadership’s most vocal champions in debate. She is an active and ardent supporter of feminist issues. A cancer survivor, she sponsored the law to require that patients and doctors, not insurance companies, decide on 48-hour hospital stays for mastectomies, lobbied for insurance coverage of early-detection tests for cervical cancer, and helped to enact “Johanna’s Law” to increase awareness of gynecological cancers. In 2009, Congress passed her bill to reverse a Supreme Court decision that had made it more difficult to ensure that women and men doing the same job are paid the same. DeLauro worked with abortion-rights opponent Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, on a consensus Democratic bill to add more money for family-planning and pregnancy-prevention programs. After a trip to Cuba in 2007, she called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo.
As chairman since 2007 of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, she has taken a keen interest in food safety, which she said should have the same priority as prescription-drug and medical-device safety. Her subcommittee in 2008 increased by $1.8 billion President Bush’s funding request for the FDA. Most of the money, DeLauro said, was aimed at reversing Bush-era cuts in consumer-protection spending. She also challenged the “pervasive pattern of failure at the FDA,” including the agency’s inadequate review of private blood and tissue donors. In July 2008, she called it “unconscionable” that the FDA gave bonuses to “top-level political managers who contribute to the low morale and negative culture at the agency.” She successfully demanded release of a list of school districts that might have received contaminated beef.
As a political strategist and advocate of Democratic causes, DeLauro is “a live wire whose words rush out like sparks,” as a New York Times profile described her. In one memorable stunt, DeLauro in 2002 helped draft the bill creating the Homeland Security Department and embarrassed House Republican leaders by winning a vote to prevent the department from contracting with corporations that move overseas for tax purposes. She has run twice for chairman of the Democratic Caucus and suffered two painfully close losses. In 1998, she lost 108-97 to Rep. Martin Frost of Texas, but then Minority Leader Dick Gephardt named her an assistant leader in charge of the party’s message. In 2002, she lost by 104-103 to Rep. Robert Menendez of New Jersey after an intense yearlong contest. DeLauro was an active supporter of Pelosi in her leadership races through the years, which helped cement the bond between the two Italian-American liberal women. Pelosi has leaned on DeLauro for important appointive leadership roles. Pelosi made her co-chair of the Democratic Steering Committee, a powerful internal post that makes committee assignments. In 2007, DeLauro also became a vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ fundraising and recruiting arm. She was tasked with encouraging member participation. In 2004, working in close coordination with the John Kerry presidential campaign, DeLauro led the drafting of the Democratic platform.
She has expressed interest in running for the Senate if a Connecticut seat becomes open.