New Haven delegation eyes statewide ballot

New Haven Dems at the convention Friday. Clockwise from top left: Co-Chair of Ward 25 Janis Underwood and Newhallville Alder Devin-Avshalom-Smith; former Mayor’s Chief of Staff Tomas Reyes and former State Party Chairman Nick Balletto; Kevin Walton, Ward 29 Co-Chair Audrey Tyson and DTC Chairman Vinnie Mauro; a table full of Maritza Bond supporters. Credit: Thomas Breen / New Haven Independent

An exciting time. And a difficult place.

New Haven Democrats battled both sentiments on the first day of a state party convention where they will have the opportunity to choose between three fellow New Havens running in two crowded statewide races .

Friday marked the first day of the 2022 Connecticut Democratic Party Conventionheld at the Xfinity Theater on Savitt Way in Hartford.

Among the roughly 1,000 Democratic Party insiders from across the state who descended on the concert hall amphitheater were several dozen of New Haven’s 95 delegates.

They came not only to vote in favor of Richard Blumenthal’s candidacy for a third term in the United States Senate, but also to prepare for what promises to be a busy and eventful Saturday.

That’s because the second day of the convention is when the more than 2,000 delegates will vote for various elected statewide positions this year, including secretary of state and treasurer. (The Democratic nomination races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General are all uncontested at this time.)

The exciting part for New Haven Democrats: The chance to help put one of their own on the ballot for statewide elected office for the first time since Mayor John DeStefano , Jr. ran for governor in 2006.

The Enigma: Two New Haveners, Karen DuBois-Walton and Eric Russell, both seeking the Democratic nod for treasurer, against Dita Bhargava of Greenwich; while the city’s health director Maritza Bond is running for secretary of state in a field crowded with other veteran Democratic politicians, like state representatives Hilda Santiago, Stephanie Thomas and Josh Elliott, as well as state senator Matt Lesser.

On the Republican side, Dominic Rapini, Terrie Wood and Brock Weber are candidates for the post of Secretary of State. Cynthia Jennings seeks the nomination of the Independent Party for this position. And Greenwich State Rep. Harry Arora is running for the Republican nomination for treasurer.

Whoever secures the votes of at least 15% of convention delegates wins a spot in the Democratic primary ballot in August. Whoever wins the votes of the majority of the delegates obtains the official approval of the party.

In addition to election monitoring, the secretary of state is in charge of commercial declarations and keeping the commercial register. The Secretary of State also proposes and lobbies for new electoral laws while promoting voting and participation in elections – as a senior “civic” state official. The Treasurer, on the other hand, is responsible for managing state pension funds, managing state banking relationships and short-term investments, issuing and managing government debt. the state and management of assets such as uncashed checks and proceeds from stocks, bonds and mutual funds whose owners cannot be located.

Mauro: “The days of unanimous voting are long gone”

“It’s exciting to have three well-qualified candidates from New Haven vying” for statewide office this year, Democratic New Haven City Committee Chairman Vinnie Mauro said before the start of Friday’s opening speeches and subsequent approval vote for Blumenthal.

As he backs Bond as Secretary of State and DuBois-Walton as Treasurer, Mauro said: ‘We will unite when we need to unite’ behind whoever wins the Democratic nominations for one of these posts. New Havener or not.

“New Haven has the greatest plurality” of Democratic votes of anywhere in the state, Mauro said. Therefore, one of the potential benefits of having a New Haven Democrat on the ballot, he posited, is that this kind of local representation could “motivate the base” to run even more. significant in the November general election against a Republican.

Is he worried about a split in the New Haven Democratic delegation between Russell and DuBois-Walton for treasurer, and between Bond and, say, Santiago, that a number of Connecticut Latino politicians high-level supporters, including many from New Haven — or Lesser, who easily won a mock poll conducted by a Westville Democratic ward committee before the convention?

“You always worry about a split,” Mauro said. But “long gone are the days of unanimous voting” for a single set of nominees shortlisted by senior party officials, he said. Convention delegates — including those from New Haven — will all have a chance to weigh in on Saturday, he said, and whoever comes out of the August approval vote and Democratic primary will need the support of the entire party and its supporters in November.

“New Haven is full of potential”

In the hours before Friday’s convention kicked off, New Haven Democrats joined hundreds of their party compatriots from across the state in the concert hall’s concession area, where they donned campaign t-shirts and beefed up their favorite candidates.

Newhallville Alder Devin Avshalom-Smith, proxy delegate for Ward 29 Democratic Party co-chair Maj. Ruth, said he would support Bond as secretary of state and DuBois-Walton as treasurer.

“For me, Maritza is the salt of the earth,” he said. He said he was confident she would make the secretary of state’s office more transparent and accessible, and would support measures to strengthen voting rights. Plus, she’s a Latina who was “born and raised in New Haven,” he said, bringing a much-needed level of diversity to the statewide Democrats’ ticket.

He said he was also backing DuBois-Walton for the position of treasurer. “I think Karen is qualified. She is well-connected” with people from all walks of life. And, in her capacity as Director of the Housing Authority, she “oversaw big budgets” and complex organizations with lots of employees. , which makes her well suited to the role of Treasurer.

Standing right next to Avshalom-Smith was Janis Underwood, Democratic Co-Chair of Ward 25 – who plans to support Lesser as Secretary of State and Russell as Treasurer, following sham votes cast by his committee prior to the convention.

“New Haven is rich with potential,” Underwood said of the three New Haveners vying for Democratic nominations for statewide office. “I am proud to be part of the New Haven delegation.”

Downtown/East Rock Alder Eli Sabin (pictured) said he had made up his mind for the post of Secretary of State and would support Bond on Saturday

As for the treasurer… he is still deciding.

“It’s great” to have so many contestants from New Haven at the convention, he said. “We haven’t had a New Havener in a statewide office in a long time. It’s overdue.

Why is it important to have a New Haven resident on the ballot?

“Representation is important,” he said. “We want to make sure that the state government “always keeps the needs of urban centers like New Haven in mind. A great way to ensure this is the case is to have a New Havener in one of these statewide elected roles.

Democratic Ward 29 Co-Chair and State Party “superdelegate” Audrey Tyson (pictured) said she would support Russell for Treasurer and Santiago for Secretary of State.

“I’ve known Erick since he was a kid,” she said with a smile, recalling that her family lived across from her on Dixwell Avenue.

“He is so dedicated. He is so smart.

She offered similar praise for Santiago. “She’s humble, hardworking,” and, Tyson added, she and Santiago have known each other for 20 years, having worked together on many other campaigns, now including that of U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.

“It’s difficult for me, because I know them all,” she said of the choice between the various candidates for secretary of state and treasurer. “It’s difficult because not everyone can win.”

Tomas Reyes (pictured right, with Frank Alvarado), former chairman of the Board of Alders and chief of staff to the mayor, was less worried about boosting his preferred candidate

“I think New Haven deserves to have a candidate on the ballot,” he said.

However, the one he most wants to see get the nod in Saturday’s vote is not a New Havener, but rather Santiago for the job of secretary of state.


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