Chaos before the convention: the tactics of the Democratic candidates questioned | New

Preparations for this weekend’s Democratic State Convention were rocked on Thursday by allegations that a campaign for secretary of state falsely involved an endorsement from Governor Ned Lamont and another was trying to change the order of the ballot to his advantage.

Rep. Hilda Santiago’s campaign is trying to sell her as the publicly neutral governor’s secret choice, while Sen. Matt Lesser’s campaign is pressuring delegates and the convention rules committee to move the ballot into their race from last to the former for reasons that anyone other than political insiders might struggle to understand.

Seven Democratic candidates at statewide drop-in polls have jointly chastised Lesser — whose wife, Sarah Steinfeld, serves on the rules committee — for trying to change the rules of a two-day convention that opens today.

The intrigue comes from the crowded fields for Secretary of State and Treasurer, contests bound by a desire for a balanced ticket that reflects the identity politics of gender, race and ethnicity.

It also stems from the lack of party leaders willing or able to shape a statewide six-officer ticket.

“I think we have extraordinarily qualified people coming forward for these jobs. And I don’t put my thumb on the scales,” Lamont said Thursday. “Overall, I’ve always defended the most diverse team.”

But not to the point of declaring a preference between the two white men and three women of color running for secretary of state — or the black woman, black man, or Indian-American woman running for office. of treasurer.

“I’ll be comfortable with the outcome, but it will come out of this convention,” Lamont said. “People know what my priorities are, but we have a good group of people running.”

Santiago’s claim; Lesser’s changes

Lamont’s general call for diversity without favoring one candidate created an opening for Santiago’s campaign to send delegates an article published by Hearst Connecticut citing unnamed sources claiming that Lamont wanted a Hispanic on the ticket. As Hearst also reported, the campaign suggested on social media that this candidate was Santiago.

Santiago, from Meriden, is competing against Rep. Stephanie Thomas from Norwalk, Maritza Bond from New Haven, Rep. Josh Elliott from Hamden and Sen. Matt Lesser from Middletown. Santiago and Bond are Latinas, Thomas is Black, and both men are White.

Although the suggestion of a Lamont endorsement annoyed his contestants, it didn’t stop them from joining in an extraordinary rebuke from Lesser for what they say was an 11-hour effort to overturn a ballot order that, depending on the party, was determined at random.

Lesser’s campaign wants the secretary of state’s endorsement to come first, not last, on Saturday, as is now expected.

The reason for this is identity politics and the assumption of how delegates will react if they are convinced that the ticket is not diverse enough. His campaign theory is that delegates may be reluctant to vote for a white man in the final contest if a black candidate had not already been approved for the position of treasurer.

Lesser says there’s another reason: At the end of the day, there’s delegate attrition.

“Secretary of State is the most controversial and competitive race,” Lesser said. “If that’s really the big question, then we should structure things to allow as many delegates as possible to participate.”

Karen DuBois-Walton of New Haven, Erick Russell of New Haven and Dita Bhargava of Greenwich, Democratic candidates for treasurer.

Candidates for Treasurer are Erick Russell from New Haven, Karen DuBois-Walton from New Haven and Dita Bhargava from Greenwich. Russell and DuBois-Walton are black. Bhargava is Indo-American.

Representative Sean Scanlon of Guilford, who is white, is the candidate for comptroller.

DuBois-Walton was the only candidate for one of the three open offices who did not sign Lesser’s reprimand. She could not be reached for comment.

“It is deeply concerning that a campaign is trying to change the order of nominations at our convention in order to benefit at the expense of everyone else,” the other candidates said. “The process for determining an order of nomination was established weeks ago in a fair and transparent manner and each candidate has planned accordingly. Attempting to change it at the eleventh hour is neither fair nor transparent.

Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William Tong and Scanlon, the comptroller nominee, are expected to be unopposed at the convention, allowing delegates to endorse them by voice vote.

The two contested races will go last, settled by roll call of the more than 2,000 delegates expected at the Xfinity Theater. A toss by Democratic State Chair Nancy DiNardo determined that delegates would vote for treasurer and then secretary of state, said DiNardo spokeswoman Patty McQueen.

“The order of nominations for the contested constitutional offices was determined with the knowledge and input of these candidates,” she said. The order of nomination speeches in these races was determined by names drawn from a hat, she said.

Lamont’s predecessor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was a former urban mayor who reveled in the mechanics and machinations of congressional politics, but Lamont has kept his distance from the question of who will be on the Democratic ticket. , which has had a degree of racial diversity in every election since 1962.

“There was a time when delegates got the word, ‘It’s the six,'” said Vinnie Mauro, the Democratic chairman of New Haven, who sends the largest delegation to the convention. “Those days are long gone.”

Roy Occhiogrosso, who was Malloy’s top political adviser, said Lamont’s approach moves away from top-down politics and limits the influence of city presidents.

“Instead of relying on them to affect an outcome, it’s basically everyone,” Occhiogrosso said. “Which means it’s not up to anyone, which means it’s wide open.”

Gaining approval requires 50% of the vote plus one. Candidates who obtain less than 7.5% of the votes in the first round will be eliminated. In the second round, only the first two will go to a third round.

Anyone getting 15% of the vote on any ballot qualifies for a primary in August, or can apply for a spot on the ballot.

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