The contentious dual between the two Republicans candidates for state Attorney General ended Tuesday with victory going to Avon attorney Martha Dean. Dean, 51, was declared the unofficial winner shortly after 10 p.m., with 60 percent of the vote compared to opponent Ross Garber’s 40 percent.
Dean was celebrating at her office in Avon when reached by phone.
“I really appreciate the confidence Republicans of Connecticut have shown in me and my ability to steer Connecticut in the right direction and to create a legal climate allowing law abiding individuals and businesses to flourish,” she said.
Garber, who awaited results Tuesday at the Rocky Hill Marriott, could not be reached for comment.
Dean won the GOP nomination in May with 50 percent of the delegates voting for her. Garber, who entered the race three days before the convention after the state Supreme Court ruled that his sister-in-law, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, was ineligible to run, took 39 percent.
Both Dean and Garber, 43, are experienced attorneys who criticized Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for contributing to the state’s anti-business reputation. But it was their criticism of each other that stood out during their campaign.
Dean suggested, for example, that Garber’s representation of former Gov. John G. Rowland during his criminal investigation and threatened impeachment made him poorly suited for the job of attorney general. Garber took aim at Dean’s personal views, including her promotion of school-based weapons training programs for children, which he said suggested she would substitute a libertarian agenda for Blumenthal’s activism.
An incident involving lawn signs that could have derailed Dean’s campaign seemed to have little impact on Tuesday’s results.
Malcom McGough, Dean’s husband and campaign manger, was charged with breach of peace Sunday night after an altercation with a Canton woman, from whose property he removed signs supporting Garber and replaced them with signs for Dean. Betty Fiora told police she’d been assaulted by a man following the altercation about the signs. The man was later identified by police as McGough.
Dean has been a lawyer for 22 years, the last 16 of which she has run her own practice. She has represented industrial, financial and commercial concerns, according to her website, as well as individuals with environmental claims.
Both Dean and Garber have previously run for public office. In 2002, Dean ran unsuccessfully against Blumenthal. Garber ran for state Treasurer against Denise Nappier and lost.
Dean had not said in advance where she would be on primary night but described the gathering as a small group of very loyal supporters – people who have endorsed me and other elected officials. Asked to name the officials, she said “I prefer to call it a happy celebration of supporters.
Dean, who took no public financing, believes money played no role in the race against Garber. The quality of her message, volunteers and the “urgency of the need to steer Connecticut onto firm economic footing” led voters to choose a “serious and substantive candidate of integrity,” she said.
Her Democratic opponent in November, attorney George Jepsen issued a statement Tuesday congratulating her on her victory while noting the differences in their vision and experience.
“There are clear differences between Martha and I, in our experience and vision for the office, that I believe the voters will want to hear,” said Jepsen. “I have been running hard since January and my campaign has significant momentum. I’ve received donations from more than 1,300 people and qualified for public financing, allowing me to focus on the issues. Every day, I meet with groups across the state: labor, business, Democrats, and Republicans. We talk about the state’s most pressing needs and what I can do as Attorney General to help the economy, improve the business climate and protect Connecticut citizens.”
Meanwhile in the race for state Comptroller, Health Care Advocate Kevin Lembo, handedly defeated Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, who had taken him to court this July over the state’s decision to allow him to keep fundraising based on a complaint from Jarjura’s campaign manager.
Lembo joined Dan Malloy’s campaign celebration at City Steam in Hartford Tuesday after the votes were tallied. Jarjura had waged a fairly negative campaign against Lembo, but Lembo, a former assistant state comptroller, prevailed garnering close to 70 percent of the vote.
Majority Leader Denise Merrill also prevailed in the contest for Secretary of the State defeating former New Haven Alderman Gerry Garcia with more than 60 percent of the vote.
Earlier in the evening at a polling place in West Hartford Merrill said she has a lot of ideas for improving voting after spending a day at the polls.