Conventions Will Prove Interesting

What do a television anchor, head of the World Wrestling Federation, and Republican State Party Chairman have in common? This year, they are all nominees for state office. Add to that mix a young African-American lawyer from Hartford, the mayor of Danbury, a Marine who arranged water purification supplies to Baghdad, a New York City firefighter, and various small business owners and you have the Republican slate for state and federal offices this year. The slateis quite varied in personality and experience than any other in recent history.

The departure of our state’s Governor, and the decision of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Comptroller and Senator Dodd to retire or run for other offices make this an unusual year in Connecticut. Add in a disaffected electorate and you can be sure that elections will be competitive statewide.

While you may have seen some advertising for some of the candidates (Tom Foley, Dan Malloy, Mike Fedele, Ned Lamont, Lisa Wilson-Foley, Linda McMahon, Peter Schiff, and Oz Greibel have had ads so far), you may not know exactly who they are or what they’re running for. And you might be surprised that you may not even have a chance to decide on their future. That’s because the process for choosing our state’s leaders actually more mirrors an NCAA tournament chart than anything else.

The first stage comes next weekend when both Republicans and Democrats meet in Hartford for state conentions on May 21st and 22nd. The Democrats will be in the Expo Center and the Republicans in the Convention Center. There, about 1400 delegates will choose their party’s nominees for Congressmen, Senator, and the state Constitutional officers: Governor, Leuitenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and State Comptroller. Delegates to these conventions were chosen by party members at the town committee level in March. In most towns, any member of the respective party could have attended those caucuses at that time.

Other offices such as State Representative and Senator were chosen by the Republican Party this past week. Democrats will choose their nominees in two weeks. All of the nominees from these local and state conventions will be who the major parties want to represent them in November. Nominees must receive 50% +1 of the votes cast in order to garner a nomination. This process may take a long time in certain races with multiple candidates. However, state law says that if a second candidate for any of these offices receive 15% of the vote at these nomination conventions, they can challenge the party nominee in a primary in August. Another way another member of a party can challenge a nomination is by getting a certain number of signatures to get on the ballot. This number is usually 1% of the previous number of votes cast.

In a primary election, all members of a particular party in a given district may have a vote in who their party nominee will be. In 2008, Joe Lieberman was nominated by the Democratic Party for US Senate. However, Ned Lamont challenged and won against him in a primary in August. He then assumed the position of party nominee. Lieberman only remained on the ballot by continuing to run as a third party candidate, which again required him to obtain enough signatures to get on the ballot.

The winners of the primaries – if there is any – face off in the general election where all voters can vote for whom they want to represent them. Additional candidates may run as independents or on minor parties if they get enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Check back with the Whisper to see who’s running for which office in next week’s conventions.


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