In Connecticut, Republicans have been on the top ballot line for decades, but in 2011 Democratic candidates got top billing. Republican leaders said Thursday that they shouldn’t have because the Republican gubernatorial candidate still got more votes than Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Party ballot placement is determined by which party receives the most votes in a gubernatorial election.

In this letter to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. , Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero contend Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley received the most votes in 2010.

Although Malloy won the election by a slim margin of 6,404 votes, his name was split between two party lines. His name appeared on the Democratic ballot line and the Working Families Party ballot line. Foley’s name only appeared on the Republican ballot line and in 2010 he received 560,874 votes, compared to the 540,970 votes Malloy received on the Democratic ballot line. Malloy also received 26,308 votes on the Working Families Party line.

“Though Candidate Dannel Malloy polled the most votes overall, he did so by combining the totals of two separate party lines,” the letter stated.

Republicans argued that means they should have been at the top of the ballot during the 2011 municipal elections.

“We believe we have a solid case to make that Republican candidates for office this fall should be placed first based on the results of the 2010 gubernatorial election. We have case law to support our position,” Cafero said.

“The Republican Party line for governor garnered more votes than any other party line in 2010. Under Connecticut law, our candidates for state and federal office deserve the top-line designation on this year’s ballot. The Republican Party has earned that,” McKinney added.

Both the Democratic Party and a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office were reviewing the issue and were not immediately able to comment on the matter.