CT Democrats battling in races for Treasurer and Secretary of State

HARTFORD — An August primary will likely be needed to sort through Democratic Party nominations for Secretary of State and Treasurer after several candidates received enough support from delegates to the party’s State Convention on Saturday to be on the the ballot.

After a series of uncontested races to start the convention, more than eight candidates contested the final two statewide offices, which were left open by the retirement of Secretary of State Denise Merrill and the recent announcement that Treasurer Shawn Wooden would not be seeking re-election. Both are Democrats.

Some party leaders have also called on delegates to address the lack of diversity on the Democratic ticket in the past two races after previous nominations left the party with a majority white, majority female slate of candidates.

In the race for treasurer, Wooden’s decision not to seek reelection last month led to three candidates submitting paperwork for the job: former Greenwich chief investment officer Dita Bhargava, director of the New Haven Housing Authority Karen Dubois Walton and Erick Russell, former Newtown State Party Vice President.

Erick Russell won after leading the first ballot on Saturday with the support of 47% of delegates, against nearly 27% for Dubois Walton and 26% for Bhargava.

“The job of the state treasurer goes far beyond maximizing returns and managing debt, it’s about supporting hardworking people every day, it’s about building stronger communities stronger, safer and more sustainable, it’s about creating a more fiscally equitable Connecticut,” Russell said. .

Both Dubois Walton and Bhargava agreed to cede party endorsement to Russell to avoid an extra ballot for a candidate to receive a majority of delegates, while promising to contest the nomination in the primary.

Speaking to her supporters, Bhargava directly addressed the lack of gender diversity on the ticket, calling on voters to “get behind the women, empower our women.”

The race for the secretary of state, meanwhile, was set to continue into the early evening after none of the five candidates appeared close to the 50% threshold needed to secure party approval.

Those candidates included three state representatives — Rep. Hilda Santiago, of Meriden, Rep. Stephanie Thomas, of Norwalk, and Rep. Josh Elliott, of Hamden — as well as New Haven City Health Director Maritza Bond and State Senator Matt Lesser of Middletown.

Thomas led the first ballot, with almost 26% of the vote, followed by Santiago with 23%, Lesser with 22%, Bond with 17% and Elliott with 11%. As all five candidates reached the minimum threshold to advance to a second ballot, Bond publicly stepped down and vowed to fight her fight in the primary.

Elliott, who did not meet the threshold to take part in the primary ballot, was then seen telling his supporters to support Thomas while the second round of voting was underway. The second round of voting was underway around 5 p.m.

Candidates who are unable to vote at the convention can also collect signatures afterwards to work their way to the ballot.

Earlier in the day, party delegates gave their endorsement to Governor Ned Lamont by acclamation, along with Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William Tong and Comptroller candidate Sean Scanlon, a state representative from Guilford.

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