Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie photo

HARTFORD, CT — The sheer number of candidates running for public office has made this year’s primary season unpredictable. With polls open until 8 p.m. there’s still plenty of time for Democratic or Republican voters to vote and bring greater clarity to the November election.

Outside Parker Memorial Community Center in Hartford, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said turnout for Tuesday’s primary is “typically low.”

She said there seems to be a higher turnout for the Republican gubernatorial primary, but she doesn’t expect it to be higher than 25 percent. As of noon turnout for the Republican primary was around 8 percent. Turnout for the Democratic primary was around 6.5 percent.

“With five candidates there seems to be higher interest,” Merrill said.

She said the “weird weather” with rain one minute and then sun the next will also depress turnout.

Denise Merrill updates us on voter turnout.

Posted by on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

There were some minor issues at the polls, but quickly resolved.

She said they don’t forbid ballot selfies, but they have discouraged the use of cellphones in polling places.

“It really is dependent on that moderator and that moderator gets to decide what’s disruptive at that polling place,” Merrill said.

Carey Redd of Hartford declined to say who he voted for, but was excited to be voting.

He said there are some important races for governor, state treasurer and attorney general.

That’s almost an understatement. In total, there are 53 Democrats are competing for nominations in 25 races and 35 Republicans competing in 15 races.

The races with the most interest include the Republican primary for governor where Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the endorsed Republican, will try for a third time to capture the nomination. Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, Westport Businessman Steve Obsitnik, Bob Stefanowski, a former GE and UBS executive, and David Stemerman, a former hedge fund founder, are also vying for the Republican nomination.

Stemerman and Stefanowski both petitioned their way onto the Republican ballot bypassing the party’s convention process.

On the Democratic side, Ned Lamont, is trying for a second time to capture the Democratic nomination. He lost in 2010 to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy who didn’t seek a third-term opening up the seat. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who was re-elected by voters in the Park City in 2015 after getting out of prison, fought to collect more than 15,485 signatures to get his name on the Democratic ballot.

In Branford, as of noon 119 Democrats and 123 Republicans had voted in District 1 at the high school, one of seven voting districts in town.

Moderator Walter Smith agreed with Merrill that primary turnout “is generally low,” but he added “that we’ve been a little bit busier than we figured we would be.”

Smith said he expected the vote turnout to pick up later in the afternoon “after people get out of work for the day.”

More than 1.2 million voters, or about 57 percent of the electorate, are eligible to vote in today’s primaries for governor, four constitutional offices, U.S. Senate, Congress, and the legislature.

There were 275,114 new voters registered between the 2016 president election and the end of June. Of that 81,908 are newly registered Democratic voters, 43,390 newly registered Republican voters. The rest or about 149,000 didn’t register with a party.

There are about 2.1 million registered voters in the state and about 859,470 are unaffiliated voters and won’t be able to participate in the primary.

Photo/Douglas Healey
David Stemerman, one of the five Republican candidates for governor shows his ID to vote (Photo/Douglas Healey)

The candidates themselves criss-crossed the state hoping to get voters to the polls.

We were able to catch up with some of them.

Shortly after voting in his hometown of Madison, Stefanowski stopped into his headquarters in nearby Branford just before 2 p.m. to give campaign workers a pep talk.

“I think we are going to win this thing,” Stefanowski told the group. “Who would have thought that a year ago?”

Photo / Douglas Healey
Bob Stefanowski, one of the five Republican candidates for governor shows his ID to vote (Photo / Douglas Healey)

Stefanowski has vowed to eliminate the state income tax in eight years, among other tax cuts he promises, but hasn’t given any specifics on how he plans to replace the billions of dollars in funding the tax cuts would create, other than saying he believes in zero-based budgeting.

Stefanowski didn’t take questions from the press while addressing his supporters, but he left them with this: “Let’s go win this thing and then beat the pants off Ned Lamont in the general election.”

Meanwhile, in Hartford Ganim stopped at the Parkville School and was greeted by enthusiastic supporters like Lillian Ruiz of Bloomfield who said she was up all night putting up signs for the candidate.

“He represents the people,” Ruiz said. “He’s the voice for the voiceless in our communities.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Lillian Ruiz shakes the hand of Joe Ganim’s son in Hartford (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Rice Villa said Ganim is going to lead us out of this mess and “take us back to the promised land.”

His opponent, Lamont, the endorsed Democratic candidate, was east of the Connecticut River in Manchester speaking with campaign workers at their headquarters on Broad Street.

Lamont said he’s excited to see young people involved like they were back in 2006 when he was challenging former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman on the Iraq War. 
“Don’t go anywhere stick around things are going to get better,” Lamont told campaign workers.

He said when he ran for governor eight years ago “people were lined up at the unemployment office just desperate to know if they’d have a job and today in Connecticut we have tens of thousands really great, good paying jobs we can’t fill.”

He said the jobs are in advanced manufacturing and coding.

He said a “governor and lieutenant governor can make an extraordinary difference.”

He said he has kids who he wants to make sure will be able to come home and call home. He said that’s why he and Susan Bysiewicz are running for governor and lieutenant governor.

Bysiewicz, the endorsed Democratic candidate, runs separately from Lamont Tuesday even though the two have teamed up. She is being challenged by Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, a 31 year old, who received endorsements from labor organizations and the Working Families Party.

Republicans have three candidates vying for the number two spot.

Sen. Joe Markley, the endorsed Republican candidate, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, and Darien First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson.

This story will be updated shortly.