There were no surprises Friday morning when Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr., announced the names of the four Republican presidential candidates who will appear on Connecticut’s April 24 primary ballot. A fifth candidate submitted his request about 40 minutes after the deadline.
Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney all made the cut and were chosen based on national and state media coverage they have received over the past few months.
Former Louisiana Gov. Charles ‘Buddy’ Roemer III’s campaign contacted Merrill’s office about 40 minutes too late to urge her to consider putting his name on the ballot. Merrill’s office said he has an opportunity to petition his way on, if he chooses.
“We don’t have a financial or signature requirement like New Hampshire or Virginia,” Merrill said Friday during a press conference to announce the candidates.
Labriola said he likes the way Connecticut decides on its candidates because “it doesn’t create a technical obstacle.”
Lesser known Republican presidential candidates like Fred Karger or Roemer still have a chance to get on the ballot in Connecticut if they choose. Starting today if they collect 4,100 signatures from registered Connecticut Republicans by March 2, then their names may also appear on the ballot.
Roemer’s campaign contacted Merrill’s office about 40 minutes too late to urge her to consider putting his name on the ballot. Merrill’s office said he has an opportunity to collect the requisite signatures.
And any Democratic candidate that wants to challenge President Barack Obama on April 24 has until March 2 to collect 7,500 signatures of registered Democrats in the state.
“Our petition requirement is relatively modest,” Merrill said. “And it doesn’t even have a geographic limitation so you could get all those signatures in one town.”
In New Hampshire, where a $1,000 gets a candidate on the ballot a total of 44 Democratic and Republican candidates courted voters. Vermin Supreme was one 14 candidates on the Democratic ballot in New Hampshire and has run in every presidential election since 1988. It’s unclear if Mr. Supreme will seek ballot access in Connecticut, but we’ve reached out to his campaign.
Voter turnout for Republican primaries in other states has been lower than in 2008 with the exception of South Carolina.
Labriola said to date the Republican primaries have been a “horse race” with one candidate on top one week, and another surging just a week later.
“Both Denise and myself believe our primary on April 24 may in fact be very relevant,” Labriola said. “There are 13 more states after our primary on April 24 that still will have a primary.”
He said Connecticut has 28 delegates to the Republican National Convention, which is the same amount as Iowa. “Yet it gets tremendously disproportionate attention,” Labriola said.
None of the top-tier Republican candidates have visited the state, with the exception of Romney, who has been seen collecting campaign contributions in Greenwich, according to Labriola.
“I would urge the four candidates Secretary Merrill is placing on our primary ballot to get into Connecticut and compete for our delegates to the Republican National Convention,” Labriola said.
Since New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware will also be heading to the polls that day it gives candidates a chance to visit the region.
Labriola said he believes the interest will grow as these races continue to be competitive.
“I predict an up-tick in our participation on April 24,” Labriola said.