Senate Republican leader John McKinney called draft legislation that would bar the Independent Party of Connecticut from keeping its name a “disgusting, arrogant power grab,” by the Democratic majority.
The working draft of the omnibus campaign finance bill would bar the use of the word “independent” in political party names.
It’s a change that would force the Independent Party of Connecticut—which cross-endorsed several Republicans in legislative and Congressional races— to change its name.
Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, said the only reason the Democratic majority included that change in the bill is because the Independent Party of Connecticut received more votes than the Working Families Party, a third party that traditionally cross-endorses Democrats.
“They realized that the Independent Party of Connecticut has run ahead of the Working Families Party and they want to neuter them by eliminating them,” McLachlan said.
He said the Independent Party of Connecticut has a 30 year history in the state, first as a regional party and then as a statewide party.
In the last two statewide elections more votes were cast on the Independent Party line than the Working Families Party line.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, called the proposal a “grand larceny of the political process.”
Sen. Anthony Musto, D-Trumbull, who helped draft the bill, said Tuesday that the word “independent” is often confused with the word “unaffiliated.”
“Independent’ is a word that people confuse with unaffiliated,” he said.
But McKinney disagrees. He said there are far more unaffiliated voters in the state and in order to register with a party you have to actively make that decision.
Cafero said it’s an insult to the voters to assume they don’t know the difference between being unaffiliated and a member of the Independent Party.
The Independent Party is the third-largest in the state, with nearly 14,000 voters, according to figures released by Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill.
The draft bill would also ban parties that use names such as United States; America; Connecticut; the name of a city or town; and any words relating to a symbol for the government or a deity or religion.
But House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said it would only be a power grab if the Democratic party actually went through with the proposal. He said the language was still being drafted and he wasn’t certain that part of the bill would be included in the final version.
“We’re having conversations with our friends across the aisle and the governor’s office about the best way to proceed,” Sharkey said.