HARTFORD — Connecticut Republicans will have the opportunity to vote for Donald Trump in this year’s presidential primary, following Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas’ announcement last week that the former president is qualified to be included on the slate.
The decision stands in contrast to recent moves in several states to ban Trump from participating in their respective primaries.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in December that Trump is disqualified from holding the presidency and ordered that his name be excluded from the state’s Republican primary ballot. Soon after, Maine’s secretary of the state barred Trump from the state’s primary ballot after determining he engaged in an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, citing a 14th Amendment provision that disqualifies government officials who engage in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office,
Similar ballot challenges have been filed in at least 35 states.
In Connecticut, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Ryan Binkley round out the Republican ballot options.
President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep Dean Phillips, D-Minn., author Marianne Williamson and Turkish-born political commentator Cenk Uygur will appear on Connecticut’s Democratic presidential primary ballot.
By statute, Connecticut’s secretary of the state has the sole authority to designate the candidates for each party’s primary ballot by determining if the “candidacy of such person for such party’s nomination for President is generally and seriously advocated or recognized by reports in the national or state news media.”
Tara Chozet, Thomas’ communications director, said the office followed national press coverage and “collected news clippings” to determine a candidate’s eligibility. She also said only candidates from major parties are considered, and that candidates or political parties are “not entitled to input.”
Chozet acknowledged that the office received letters, emails and phone calls regarding Trump’s eligibility.
“We received a fair amount of communications on both sides,” she said, noting that the office “does not have authority to remove a name from the ballot.”
According to Chozet, only a court would have the authority to bar a candidate from the ballot in Connecticut.
“It’s a fair question to ask if Donald Trump’s involvement with the Jan. 6 insurrection should disqualify him from appearing on ballots across the country,” Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo said following Thomas’ announcement.
DiNardo expressed no concerns with the Biden/Harris ticket sharing the primary ballot with three other Democratic candidates.
“We’re confident that voters will choose them on April 2 and Nov. 5,” she said.
Connecticut Republican Party leaders did not respond to a request for comment.
Both primaries are scheduled for April 2, but early voting is available starting March 26.