Christine Stuart photo
Rep. Chris Caruso (Christine Stuart photo)

(Updated: 3:45 p.m.) The state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision not to overturn the results of the September 2007 primary contest between state Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, and newly-elected Mayor Bill Finch.

Outside his legislative office in Hartford, Mr. Caruso said he had hoped the state’s highest court would go one step further than the trial court and overturn the primary, but he’s not exactly disappointed with its findings.

Mayor Finch said in a press release that “It is unfortunate that Representative Caruso prolonged the outcome of this election and my decision to resign the State Senate through a baseless lawsuit that cost the taxpayers of our City and State hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

However, Mr. Caruso doesn’t exactly see it that way.

Mr. Caruso said he was gratified that the Supreme Court pointed out the violations of law by the Democratic Registrar of Voters. He said the lower court failed to find the Democratic Registrar of Voters, Santa Ayala, violated election law, when clearly she did by making certain procedural decisions or rulings that favored his opponent.

“When people violate the law it’s imperative to take action,” Caruso said. “Otherwise those actions would have been tolerated in the future,” he said referring to Ayala. 

In the decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote, “we agree with the plaintiff that Ayala’s alleged failure to comply with the mandates of § 9-229 (a) and § 9-436 (d) and (e) colorably constituted rulings of an election official.” Caruso said the State Elections Enforcement Commission is independently investigating those violations.

While the Supreme Court found that Bridgeport’s Democratic Registrar of Voters failed to comply with mandated elections laws, it also found that Mr. Caruso, “failed to meet his heavy burden of proving that the combined effect of the understaffing of the polling places, the alleged bias of the poll workers and the alleged irregularities was to place the result of the election seriously in doubt, thereby entitling the plaintiff to a new election.”

Justice Rogers wrote, “The evidence simply did not establish that, but for the alleged irregularities, the 270 vote margin between the plaintiff and Finch might have been significantly different.”

Mr. Caruso said if this had been a general election, instead of a primary, he’s confident the court would have ordered a new election.

Click here to read the court’s decision.