RATINGS CHANGE: Connecticut's 5th District

Republicans are having trouble recruiting a candidate to challenge Esty. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman members who are elected to a first term with less than 50 percent of the vote are often automatic takeover targets the next cycle. But Republicans are having difficulty finding a top-tier challenger to Rep. Elizabeth Esty in Connecticut's 5th District.

Esty was first elected last fall, 51 percent to 49 percent, over state Sen. Andrew Roraback. A moderate Republican, Roraback would have been a formidable challenger in 2014, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, appointed him as a judge after the election. That boosted Democratic hopes of retaining the seat.

Republicans explored some other recruiting options but have come up short thus far. And Democratic nominees have won the district in the past three presidential contests, including President Barack Obama’s 54 percent in 2012.

The congresswoman received some negative press when she returned $3,500 in campaign contributions from executives and lobbyists of Northeast Utilities, which is regulated by her husband. But Republicans still need a top-tier recruit to be in the game here.

We have moved this race from Democrat Favored to Currently Safe Democrat in the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.