The fall political races will begin to heat up in earnest after today’s primaries, which may prove competitive for a number of party nominations — including the three candidates who sparred at the Republican convention for the party’s endorsement to run for U.S. Senator against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who is seeking a third term.
Other races include both parties’ choice of candidates for the Secretary of the State, the Republican candidate for the House 4th District and the Democratic candidate for Treasurer. A number of candidates are vying for nomination in state assembly seats — check to see if your district is one of them.
Republican Themis Klarides, who won the Republican endorsement with 57 percent of the vote at the party’s May convention and is seen as a moderate, will face two conservatives who split the remaining 43 percent of the convention vote: Leora Levy, of Greenwich, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump last week, and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, who has previously sought a seat in the Senate, as Secretary of the State and as Governor.
Klarides, 57, of Madison and formerly of Derby, served as State Representative for District 114 from 1999 to 2021 and was House minority leader from 2015-2021. “As the Republican leader in the Connecticut House, we passed a Republican budget in a Democratic state that gave us spending caps, bonding caps, and volatility caps. I will take the same approach to Washington,” she said on her website. She supports abortion rights, border security and public safety and is endorsed by the Connecticut State Police Union and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Levy, 65, of Greenwich, who born in Cuba and emigrated to the U.S. as a child with her parents, worked as a commodities trader in her twenties. She is a major fundraiser for the Connecticut Republican State Central Committee and the Republican National Committee, serving on the latter. On her campaign website, said she said she is “a champion for the Pro-Life movement” and has signed The Big Family Pledge “solidifying her belief in the beginning of life from conception.” She said she believes that “closing our U.S. borders is paramount in the pursuit of safety and security for our country.” She said she is committed to “leading the fight for freedom in this country” because she has seen what happens when you lose it.
Lumaj, was born in Albania in 1967 and grew up under Communism, according to his website. While studying at the country’s Agriculture Institute, he engaged clandestinely in anti-government protests, was arrested in 1989 and subjected to torture before being released. With two of his brothers, he later escaped to the U.S. where he became an attorney. He said he believes in protecting the Second Amendment and that “Roe v. Wade was an unconstitutional decision when it was rendered by liberal activist judges in 1973.” He said he believes in strengthening the U.S. Southern border and country’s military preparedness. He recently told CT Examiner, “I’m not afraid to be a Republican. I’m a conservative. I’m the only one who’s an unwavering conservative. Never changed my positions.”
Secretary of the State
In a field that became crowded with candidates after Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced she would not seek a fourth term, and stepped down at the end of June to take care of her husband, Republicans and Democrats have narrowed their choices for primary day.
From as many as seven candidates, the two Democrats in the primary for Secretary of the State are Stephanie Thomas, a first-term State Representative serving the 143rd district in Norwalk, endorsed by Democrats at their convention, and Maritza Bond, the Director of Health for New Haven, who petitioned to be placed on the primary ballot. Hilda Santiago and Matt Lesser, among others, withdrew or were disqualified from the race.
Thomas, of Norwalk, a small business owner with a three-decade career as a nonprofit strategist and fundraiser, said on her website she will “use her business and legislative experience, as well as her strong leadership skills, to champion transparency in government, streamline business processes, and strengthen trust in our elections” and “make voting more accessible and resist attempts to limit voting rights.” She told CT Examiner she “is a strong backer of expanding voting rights, including a proposed state constitutional amendment to implement early in-person voting,” which will be a ballot question in the November election.
Bond, of New Haven, has 20 years of experience serving in public health. On her website, she said her priorities include bringing early voting to the state, restoring trust between local election officials and the Secretary of the State’s office, and restoring fiscal autonomy to the Office. She told CT Examiner that she is running because “in these unprecedented times, we need experienced leadership ready to fight to protect our democracy.”
From three Republican candidates at the convention, the two remaining contenders are Dominic Rapini, who won his party’s endorsement at the convention with 50.25 percent of the vote, and Terrie Wood, who won 18.34 percent of the vote, which qualified her to primary without petitioning. Brock Weber, of Wolcott, won 31.32 percent of the vote at the convention but withdrew from the race.
Rapini, of Branford, an 25-year executive at Apple, told CT Examiner in 2021 that he was passionate about voting integrity issues and that he had been researching on election integrity issues for three years, partly in his position as a former board chair of Fight Voter Fraud, a 501(c)(4) organization. He resigned from his position in August 2021, after the State Elections Enforcement Commission dismissed a number of complaints filed by the organization. He recently cited a CT Examiner story about ballot fraud in Stamford, saying, “Election integrity is not negotiable.”
Wood, of Darien, has served as state Representative for District 141 since 2009. In an interview with CT Examiner, she said she wants to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.” A self-described political moderate, she recently told CT Examiner, “There’s nothing more important than protecting your right to vote. I will always stand up to flawed policies that put your vote in jeopardy. I will always fight to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections.”
U.S. House, 4th District
For the U.S. House Representative seat in the 4th District, held by Democrat Jim Himes since 2009, the Republican primary race includes Jayme Stevenson, who won her party’s endorsement, and ophthalmologist and attorney Michael Ted Goldstein.
Stevenson was first selectman of Darien for 10 years and was a candidate in the Republican primary for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut in 2018. In an interview with CT Examiner, she described herself as part of a “new breed of Republicans” and as “a commonsense Republican, one that does not stand on ideology.” She described herself as “fiscally and financially shrewd, and prudent… And maybe socially more libertarian.”
Goldstein, of Greenwich, forced a primary by collecting the requisite number of signatures —about 2,000 — from registered Republicans in his district. He has not held political office before. In an interview with CT Examiner, Goldstein said his platform includes three categories: prosperity, liberty and security. He said he is running to fight for the people of Connecticut and the United States. “And I want to make sure that this country remains the greatest country in the world and essentially keep us prosperous and safe.”
Three Democrats will primary to run against the Republican candidate, State. Rep. Harry Arora, who received his party’s endorsement for Treasurer at the convention.
Democrat Erick Russell, of New Haven, is an attorney specializing in the financing of municipal and state infrastructure projects. On his website, he said that much of his work has been directly through the Office of the Treasurer, allowing him a “unique opportunity to gain valuable experience and the perspective to see how the position can be used to make meaningful change in our State.”
Dita Bhargava, of Greenwich, is a hedge fund manager who lost to Wooden in the Democratic primary in 2018. On her website, she said that it has become more difficult for Connecticut residents to get ahead and that she has “a plan for our future that will create the conditions for growth for our towns, families, and businesses, and that will form jobs for the middle-class without the burden of additional taxes.”
Karen DuBois-Walton, of New Haven, is president of the New Haven Housing Authority and was appointed Chair of the State Board of Education by Gov. Ned Lamont. She said, on her website, that her priorities include ensuring “the responsible growth of CT’s investments and protection of the public pensions” and guiding those investments in ways that “benefit the hard working families of CT and stimulate equitable growth,” as well as creating opportunities for CT families to save, build assets and enhance their financial literacy, and providing “fair and equitable leadership that enhances morale, productivity and results.”
Connecticut State Senate and House primary races
– State Senate, 23rd District (Bridgeport/Stratford): Dennis Bradley vs. Herron Gaston
– State Representative, 16th District (Simsbury): Melissa E. Osbourne vs. Eric Wellman
– State Representative, 34th District (Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton): Kurt Comisky vs. John Olin
– State Representative, 98th District (Branford, Guilford): Moira Rader vs. Andy Gottlieb
– State Representative, 116th District (West Haven): Trenee McGee vs Joseph Miller
– State Representative, 127th District (Bridgeport): Marcus Brown vs. Jack Hennessey
– State Representative, 69th District (Southbury): Jason Buchsbaum vs Cindy Harrison
– State Representative, 78th District (Plymouth): Joe Hoxha vs Aileen Abrams