There is no statewide primary in Connecticut this year, but there are 16 Democratic and Republican primaries coming up on Aug. 9, including 12 legislative primaries, two for probate judge, and two registrar of voters.
The closest thing to a statewide primary this year was August Wolf’s attempt to challenge Dan Carter, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, who is running in the general election against incumbent Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Wolf failed to collect enough signatures to qualify.
“There are exciting races in a number of towns and cities,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said last week in a press release reminding voters they need to be registered with a party to vote.
Some of those exciting races include the contests for state Senate and state Representative in Bridgeport, where the party declined to endorse two incumbents — state Sen. Marilyn Moore and Rep. Ed Gomes.
Gomes, who is a four-term state senator but not the party endorsed candidate, won a court challenge in July to get on the primary ballot. Members of the Democratic Town Committee in Bridgeport failed to submit paperwork to Merrill’s office showing he received 15 percent of the delegate support at the May convention. Gomes had to sue local party officials to get on the ballot.
The 80-year-old is no stranger to being the odd-man out with his own party. In 2015, Gomes wasn’t the endorsed candidate, but he won the support of the Working Families Party and won a special election that year to take back the seat he had held for three terms.
Moore, who also was endorsed by the Working Families Party, lost the Democratic Party’s endorsement to Bridgeport City Council President Thomas McCarthy. However, like Gomes she also won enough support to participate in this year’s Democratic primary and in her case the Bridgeport DTC did send in the appropriate paperwork to the Secretary of the State’s office.
Moore’s New Britain colleague, Sen. Terry Gerratana, did receive the party’s endorsement at a convention in May, but will still be challenged. Gerratana, who co-chairs the legislature’s Public Health Committee, will face a challenge from Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, who chairs the New Britain Board of Education.
Gerratana won the seat in a special election back in 2011 after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated then-Sen. Donald DeFronzo to head the Department of Administrative Services. In that election, she defeated former New Britain Republican Mayor Timothy Stewart, the father of current New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart.
In the House, Bridgeport Democratic Reps. Charles Stallworth and Andre Baker, also are facing challenges. Bridgeport school board member Maria Pereira will challenge Stallworth and Charles Coviello will challenge Baker.
In Hamden, Joshua Elliott, a 31-year-old attorney and small business owner who shocked some Democratic Party faithful when he announced he was going to challenge House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, will face off against Hamden Council President James Pascarella. Sharkey announced he wouldn’t seek another term earlier this year.
Three more Democratic incumbents face challenges from members of their own party.
State Rep. Ernest Hewett, who was stripped of his leadership position two years ago for remarks made during a committee hearing, will face off against Chris Soto, a youth advocate, in New London.
State Rep. Louis Esposito is being challenged by Michael DiMassa, a city council clerk in West Haven, and state Rep. Terry Adams, who is completing his first term, will face a challenge from Dan Dauplaise, a consultant for the Greenwich Education Group, in Stamford.
In a fight for the 77th House District seat in Bristol, local Democrats backed Laura Bartok, a former state Capitol staffer, over Christy Matthews, a 22-year-old University of Connecticut undergraduate. The two are vying for a chance to unseat first-term Republican state Rep. Cara Pavalock.
On the Republican side, state Rep. Jay Case of Winchester, faces a challenge from David Lapointe, a longtime budget and tax critic from the town’s Winsted section, who believes no one should run unopposed.
Also, state Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton, who is running John Shaban’s congressional campaign against U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, faces a challenge from Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Ruth Parkins, who received enough support at the convention to primary.
Overall, there are 23 state lawmakers who announced they were not seeking re-election in 2016. There are also 39 House district races where only one party put forward a candidate. At the moment, 23 Republicans will run unopposed and 16 Democrats will run unopposed, according to Merrill’s office.
Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, said primaries “are always going to draw smaller turnout than overall elections, for obvious reasons. You are dealing with a limited pool of voters.”
If there was a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat there would be more interest in the primary.
“A big, statewide race for a Senate seat, for instance, would spike voter interest and that would trickle down to the smaller Connecticut House and Senate races,” McLean said. “We don’t have that in this primary.”
McLean added that Connecticut’s “tough election laws” prevent a lot of outside money to flood into the primary campaigns. That outside money, he said, can also fuel extra interest, and extra voter turnout.
The following primaries reported to the Office of the Secretary of the State will be on the ballot on Aug: 9.
• State Senate: 6th District (New Britain) — Democratic Party endorsed Terry Gerrantana versus Sharon Beloin-Saavedra
• State Senate: 22nd District (Bridgeport) — Democratic Party endorsed Thomas McCarthy versus Marilyn Moore
• State Senate: 23rd District (Bridgeport) — Democratic Party endorsed Dennis Bradley versus Ed Gomes
• State Representative 39th District (New London) — Democratic Party endorsed Ernest Hewett versus Chris Soto
• State Representative 63rd District (Winchester, Colebrook, Goshen, Torrington) — Republican Party endorsed Jay Case versus David Lapointe
• State Representative 77th District (Bristol) — Democratic Party endorsed Laura Bartok versus Christy Matthews
• State Representative 88th District (Hamden) — Democratic Party endorsed James Pascarella versus Joshua Elliott
• State Representative 113th District (Shelton) — Republican Party endorsed Jason Perillo versus Ruth Parkins
• State Representative 116th District (West Haven) — Democratic Party endorsed Michael DiMassa versus Louis Esposito, Jr.
• State Representative 124th District (Bridgeport) — Democratic Party endorsed Andre Baker, Jr. versus Charles Coviello, Jr.
• State Representative 126th District (Bridgeport) — Democratic Party endorsed Charlie Stallworth versus Maria Pereira
• State Representative 146 District (Stamford) — Democratic Party endorsed Terry Adams versus Dan Dauplaise
• Registrar of Voters (New Britain) — Democratic Party endorsed Michael Trueworthy versus Lucian Pawlak
• Registrar of Voters (West Haven) — Democratic Party endorsed Sherri Lepper versus Patricia Horvath
• Judge of Probate to Fill Vacancy (West Hartford) — Democratic Party endorsed Owen Eagan versus Michael J. Croll
• Judge of Probate to Fill Vacancy (Bethel/Ridgefield) — Republican Party endorsed Patrick Walsh versus Daniel O’Grady