CT Independents Fight for Control of Ballot Lines

     HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) — One faction of Connecticut’s Independent Party sued two members of the other faction and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Tuesday, seeking to fill blank ballot spots for the November election.
     The lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court claims that Merrill’s office decided there would be no Independent Party candidates for the offices of U.S. Senate, the 14th State Senate District and the 118th and 119th State House Districts.
     The November ballot will be left blank without a candidate’s name on the Independent Party line because the candidates endorsed by the two factions within the same party were different.
     The Danbury faction of the Independent Party, which filed the lawsuit, is headed by John Dietter. The Waterbury faction of the Independent Party is headed by Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank Jr., who are named as defendants in the complaint.
     The Waterbury faction held its convention Aug. 30 and nominated John Price for U.S. Senate.
     Dan Carter, who is the Republican nominee and who hoped to get a second ballot line with the Independent Party, was not endorsed by the Waterbury faction even though he received the nomination from the Danbury faction on Aug. 23.
     “I would like the Republicans to cede this position to the Independents and let us go about our business,” Price said in his speech to the convention.
     There is criticism that the Danbury faction of the party has been hijacked by the Republican Party, which has been using the ballot line to support conservatives, much like the Working Families Party has been using the cross-endorsement process to support liberal candidates.
     The Waterbury-based party endorsed Price on a 12-10 vote after an initial tie.
     Merrill’s office informed the Independent Party on Sept. 1 and Sept. 6 that its ballot lines would be blank in November, according to Tuesday’s lawsuit.
     The complaint claims that two previous lawsuits did not resolve the underlying dispute between the warring factions of the party regarding the validity of its 2006 bylaws and the declaration of legal officers and a board for the Independent Party.
     The Danbury faction is again asking the court to resolve those issues. It is also asking that the names of its nominees be placed on the November ballot.
     The Danbury group endorsed Carter for U.S. Senate, Patricia Libero in the 14th Senate District, Rick Varrone in the 118th House District, and Pam Staneski in the 119th House District.
     The Waterbury group endorsed Price for U.S. Senate, Democratic State Sen. Gayle Slossberg in the 14th Senate District, Democratic Rep. Kim Rose in the 118th House District, and Ben Gettinger in the 119th House District.
     A spokesman for Merrill referred all questions about the lawsuit to the attorney general’s office.
     “We will review the complaint and respond at the appropriate time in court,” Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said Tuesday. “We would decline further comment at this time.”
     Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher will hear arguments in the case at 10 a.m. on Friday.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Matthew Grimes Jr. of Brookfield.

%d bloggers like this: