(Updated) State Sen. Jonathan Harris of West Hartford bowed out of the Democratic primary for Secretary of the State Monday afternoon.
“This was a difficult decision for me, but ultimately the right one,” Harris said in a press release. “It is critical that civic engagement in our state continues to thrive and that we have a renewed commitment to growing businesses and creating jobs. Democrats are well-positioned to make sure both of these goals are reached, and I look forward to helping the party in any way that I can.”
After losing the Democratic convention endorsement to Majority Leader Denise Merrill of Mansfield Harris had vowed to primary, but after having a few weeks to think about it Harris decided not to pursue it any further.
In a phone interview Harris said his decision was based on the “totality of circumstances.”
A newly wed with a 15 year old son and a new house, his position on row C of the ballot, the limited number of days between the convention and the primary, and the $300,000 fundraising limit under the public campaign finance system were just a few of the reasons Harris gave for reconsidering a primary. If you take the family, the logistics of a campaign, and his commercial litigation practice, along with his economic development business, into consideration, “this just wasn’t my time,” Harris said.
He said it was a “twist of fate,” that his other opponents name starts with a “G” which comes before “H” in the alphabet placing him third on the ballot.
On the first ballot, Merrill polled 808 delegates to Harris’ 552, leaving former New Haven Alderman Gerry Garcia with 455. With Garcia dropping off for the second ballot Harris polled only 826 delegates to Merrill’s 966. All three received enough delegate support to primary.
Harris also won’t run for re-election to his Senate seat, but said he’s confident there will be other ways to stay involved. He said maybe he’ll join the Parent Teacher Association or increase his work with the Rotary Club.
Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, will vie for Harris’ state Senate seat.
Merrill and Garcia will still primary for Secretary of the State.
“Jonathan Harris has been a worthy opponent and I have the utmost respect for his service to the state and the town of West Hartford,” Merrill said Monday after learning Harris had dropped out. “As a colleague in the General Assembly, I have had the opportunity to work with Senator Harris on a number of important policy issues, and I admire his dedication and his commitment to public service.”
“Jonathan is a super guy,” Garcia said. “He has become a friend over the course of the campaign because we share some of the same values and vision for the office.” Garcia is hopeful many of Harris’ supporters will give his candidacy a hard look.