HARTFORD, CT — While there was hand-wringing over races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and treasurer, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo was endorsed by the Democratic Party for a second term with no competition and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill beat back a primary challenge from Woodbridge Democratic Party Town Chairwoman Karen Talamelli Cusick.
After some early issues with the old registration system were settled, Cusick ended up with about 10 percent of the vote. She needed 15 percent to challenge Merrill.
Merrill wearing her trademark teal took to the stage and said she was inspired to seek re-election following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.
Merrill didn’t announce her re-election bid until last August, which had some wondering whether she would seek another term.
“Now more than ever, we need to protect voting rights and stand up for our democracy,” Merrill said. “There are voices calling for rolling back hard won voting rights. Their actions would erode our shared democracy. I say to them — not on my watch. We‘ve come too far to turn back now.”
Lembo had initially declared last April that he was running for governor. But about five months into the campaign he changed his mind and announced he was running for re-election to state comptroller.
When he got out of the governor’s race, Lembo said “sometimes the grass isn’t always greener.” He said he enjoyed doing what he does as comptroller and didn’t necessarily enjoy all the added responsibilities of the governor’s office.
Lembo, the first openly gay statewide office holder, was nominated by his teenage son, Jordan Lembo Frey.
When Lembo joined him on stage with his husband Charles Frey he said he’s proud of the work he’s done in the comptroller’s office.
“We have made Connecticut’s state finances among the most transparent in the nation,” Lembo said. “That didn’t come easily. The body of government isn’t always keen on the idea.”
However, “these are the moments when disrupting the status quo – disrupting business as usual – was the only option,” he added. “Open government must continue to be a value unto itself for Connecticut. It’s only with good credible information and public trust that we can solve problems and craft strategies for growth.”
Lembo could face a challenge from Republican Seymour First Selectman Kurt Miller or real estate developer Mark Greenberg, who both received enough support at the Republican convention last week to primary.
Merrill, who doesn’t have a primary, will face a challenge from Republican New Fairfield First Selectwoman Susan Chapman. Chapman was the only Republican candidate to seek her party’s endorsement.