HARTFORD, CT — A Superior Court judge decided late Wednesday that the Waterbury faction of the Independent Party and the bylaws it filed in 2010 should prevail in any intra-party dispute. That gives the Waterbury group under the leadership of Mike Telesca and Rocco Frank control of the statewide ballot line for the 2018 election.
It also means the Danbury faction of the party, which the Waterbury faction says has become a proxy for the Republican Party, will not be able to make nominations for statewide office.
Matt Grimes, an attorney for the Danbury group, said an appeal will be filed.
The 49-page decision filed Wednesday directs Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to accept statewide nominations only from the Waterbury faction of the Independent Party of Connecticut.
The Waterbury and the Danbury factions had been in discussions about what would happen if the court didn’t rule before the party was required to submit a list of statewide candidates to Merrill by Sept. 5.
At least three candidates: Republican Bob Stefanowski, Oz Griebel, and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti have expressed interest in the gubernatorial nomination.
The Waterbury-based Independent Party is holding its nominating convention at 4 p.m. Sunday.
A third party ballot line has helped major party candidates in the past, but there’s no guarantee a major party candidate would receive a cross-endorsement from the group.
Telesca said the candidates are surprised to learn they have to win over an entirely new group of delegates. There are about 120 delegates expected to show up Sunday for the convention.
The Independent Party with more than 25,000 members is the third largest party in Connecticut.
The Independent Party was first established as a minor party statewide in Connecticut when it gathered signatures and nominated Ralph Nader for president in 2008, and he garnered 1 percent of the vote.
There were several local chapters of the Independent Party before 2008 and some still exist to elect local candidates.
In her decision Peck said there’s little evidence that the Danbury group was “anything more than a local committee of the Independent Party. The only thing that distinguishes it from other local independent parties formed before 2008 is that the 2006 bylaws purported to reach beyond Danbury to control the nominations and endorsements of candidates who were not local to Danbury.”
She said there were no complaints about the 2010 bylaws from the Danbury group until 2012 when the two factions disagreed about the nomination of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton for governor.
Telesca said he couldn’t guarantee Boughton would receive the nomination because it was up to the party members.
That’s when the two groups ended up in court.
The Danbury faction is still anticipating holding its convention Monday, Aug. 27 at the Maron Hotel in Danbury.
The group is hoping to quickly appeal the case to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
However, at the moment the court has ordered Merrill to only recognize the Waterbury faction’s nominees for statewide office. It’s possible they will seek to stop that order from going into effect.