NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck’s deputy mayor and state senate hopeful Tamath Rossi hosted the grand opening of a campaign headquarters in the borough last week.
Rossi, the Republican candidate opposing incumbent Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-Woodbridge) for the senate seat in the 17th Senatorial District, addressed a crowd of about 25 campaign supporters including Republican Town Committee members, finance board members, family and friends at the gathering last Thursday.
The Church Street headquarters is one of Rossi’s three locations throughout the district; she also recently opened offices in Ansonia and Hamden. The headquarters will serve as a hub for supporters to gather and a workspace for campaigners to make phone calls, write postcards and distribute campaign signs.
Rossi thanked her supporters and said the opening was just the beginning of something much larger. She relished the opportunity to speak at the informal gathering, but told the crowd she would be all business from then on, and the next time they would be getting together would be to celebrate a huge election victory.
Rossi has been actively campaigning across the 17th district since losing to Crisco in 2008. The campaign time is something she lacked in her last bid for the statehouse, as she sprang into the race just months before Election Day.
Rossi is in the midst of an intensive-door knocking campaign and has hit over 3,000 doors in the past several months. Despite clocking an average of about two hours of sleep and burning through a pair of sneakers on her journey, Rossi said, going door-to-door and actively campaigning has proven enjoyable and beneficial.
“It’s been hectic but it’s been so positive,” Rossi said. “What’s been nice is I didn’t have this time last go-around. I’ve been campaigning since two days after my last loss. I love knocking on doors. It’s one of the best parts for me about campaigning. I remember the people I spoke to and I remember what we talk about. I’m a people person and I really enjoy that aspect of the campaign.”
Rossi has decided to go without a campaign manager and said her large group of supporters and the various coordinators that make up “Team Rossi” represent exactly the campaign approach she was looking for.
“I really wanted a team approach,” Rossi said. “We have that with ‘Team Rossi.’ There are so many people that have gotten on board. So many people are contributing to this. We’re all in this together. I’m the candidate, but ‘Team Rossi’ is a very solid team.”
State Rep. David Labriola (R-Naugatuck), who represents the 131st Assembly District, was on hand to introduce Rossi.
In a brief speech, Labriola compared the race for the 17th Senatorial District seat to a famous college basketball championship game from 1983 between a heavily-favored University of Houston team, with Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, and an underdog North Carolina State University team coached by the late Jimmy Valvano.
He explained how N.C. State was able to pull off the enormous upset and related the simple sentiment that coach Valvano expressed after the game about merely wanting to put his team in a position to win. He said no matter how mighty the opponent—in this case, an 18-year political stalwart in Crisco—when you’re in a position to win, good things can come.
“In 2010, because of her hard work, her tenacity and her talents, Tamath Rossi has put herself in a position to win this state senate seat,” Labriola said. “We are in the home stretch and we are close. We know it’s going to be a close election.”
Rossi expressed her excitement about the possibility of working with Labriola and other officials at the state and national level.
“We need to get this state back on track,” Rossi said. “I need to get up with [state representatives] Dave [Labriola] and Rosa [Rebimbas] and bring this state to the level we know it can be. We need to get the state to where we can afford to live here, we can afford to work here and find jobs here.”
“Team Rossi” is in the process of drafting a letter asking Crisco to participate in a debate.
Rossi said she’s been surprised by the anti-incumbent sentiment she’s heard across the district, adding it is much more prevalent than she had expected.
“I knew the people were frustrated and angry and I was aware of the anti-incumbent feeling, but the level of anger has been remarkable,” Rossi said. “The level of anger really hasn’t ceased to amaze me.”
Rossi would not say exactly where her confidence level is with just over five weeks remaining before Election Day, but did guarantee she would be working hard until the last second to secure a win.
“I’ll say I’m very hopeful,” Rossi said. “I do what it takes to get the job done. I’m very hard-working, I’m very driven, that’s just the way I am. I always look at it like there’s more that can be done, that’s just how I operate. I will continue to go 100 miles per hour until 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.”