Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced Monday morning that U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff qualified for the Republican primary Aug. 10.
Schiff collected at least 400 more than the required 8,268 petition signatures from registered Republicans in Connecticut. Bysiewicz said she normally recommends that a candidate collect twice the required amount.
Schiff will be facing party-endorsed candidate Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, who was backed by more than 15 percent of the delegates at the convention. Simmons has since ended his campaign but decided to keep his name on the ballot.
Schiff failed to draw the support of 15 percent of the delegates at the May 21 Republican convention, and his next option to compete in the primary was to petition for signatures.
His primary qualification follows weeks of controversy surrounding his petition efforts, however.
Those who petitioned for Schiff’s signatures and who signed the petitions had to sign a statement saying they were registered Republicans in Connecticut, which state Registrars of Voters then verify.
Ted Bromley and Lewis Button, Bysiewicz’s office attorneys, said two petitioners approached them in Bushnell Park in Hartford asked for signatures. When they asked the petitioners if they were from Connecticut, one of them said he was from Montana.
Bysiewicz said her office notified the Registrars of Voters about the incident “immediately.” She also said the Registrars of Voters invalidated 30 percent of Schiff’s total signatures, but he still qualifies for the primary.
“It’s up to Elections Enforcement and whoever else complains against Schiff’s campaign to prove otherwise,” she said. There is already one complaint pending against Schiff’s petition efforts.
In response to Schiff’s ballot access McMahon’s campaign continued to focus on the November election.
“We will take nothing for granted, and we will continue working to earn the support of voters across this state,” McMahon said. “I intend to be the Republican candidate on the ballot in November.”
In the past McMahon has said she would not challenge the validity of the petitions should Schiff qualify, according to a campaign spokesman.
Schiff’s campaign was thrilled to hear the news.
“Connecticut Republicans now have a alternative: a wrestling promoter or a businessman and economist. Given the state of our economy, I think the choice is clear,” Schiff said.
In addition to Schiff, nine other candidates for state office collected enough signatures to earn a spot on the August 10 ballot.
Those include Republican candidates for the 4th Congressional District Rick Torres and Rob Merkle, who will compete in the primary against endorsed candidate State Sen. Dan Debicella of Shelton. Republican Mark Greenberg also qualified for the primary for the 5th Congressional District against endorsed State Sen. Sam Caligiuri.