Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Bob Stefanowski works the room (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

WATERBURY, CT — Despite arguments from four candidates, the Independent Party decided to cross-endorse a Republican candidate, instead of nominating one of its own for the ballot.

Republican Bob Stefanowski, who didn’t participate in the Republican Party’s convention, easily won the Independent Party’s convention Sunday with 43 out of 64 votes cast. 

Stefanowski was working the Franco American Social Club chatting to delegates, which was slightly ironic since he skipped his own party’s convention and petitioned his way onto the ballot instead.

In 2010, Republican Tom Foley lost to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by 6,404 votes. The Independent Party ballot line could bring the necessary votes for an open governor’s seat.

“This party has 25,000 votes. You could potentially turn this election,” Stefanowski told the delegates.

He said “99 percent of the people in this room will tell you there are two people who can be the next governor of Connecticut: Ned Lamont or me.”

Lamont is the Democratic Party candidate, who was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

“I’m gonna tell you, you’re going to feel horrible if you wake up on Nov. 7th and it’s Ned Lamont,” Stefanowski said.

He said he might be the Republican endorsed candidate, but he didn’t take the traditional route to the nomination.

Oz Griebel, who is petitioning his way onto the ballot as an independent candidate, argued that if the Independent Party with a big “I” wants to move forward then it needs to nominate its own candidate, instead of endorsing one from a major party.

If that was the case then the headline on Nov. 7 would be “Griebel, Frank and the Independent Party Wins.” 

Griebel said he and Monte Frank would be back after Nov. 7 to work with the minor party and it’s members, “not throw you a few crumbs.”

“We will work with you to go back to the most important voter bloc in this state,” Griebel said.
“To the unaffiliated bloc. The group of voters looking for a viable third option.”

Griebel and Frank only received 14 of the 64 votes cast in the contest.

There are about 2.1 million registered voters in the state and about 859,470 are unaffiliated voters, which is more than either the Democratic or Republican Parties.

Rod Hanscomb, who is also petitioning his way onto the ballot under the Libertarian Party nomination, said the Independent Party and the Libertarian Party can team up to secure the fourth and fifth ballot lines and make the Independent Party and Libertarian Party the third and fourth largest party in the state.

“There’s power in running together as a small party,” Hanscomb said.

There are more than 25,000 Independent Party members in Connecticut. Only 64 showed up to vote Sunday at the

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and Mark Stewart also competed for the Independent Party nomination.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Independent Party balloting (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

The Waterbury faction of the Independent Party, which won the ballot line through a court order, will be the only faction of the party allowed to nominate candidates.

The Waterbury faction had been critical of the Danbury faction for cross-endorsing mostly Republican Party candidates and the two sides have been warring in court for years over the right to the statewide ballot line.

On Sunday the Waterbury faction ended up cross-endorsing all the Republican Party candidates for statewide office and the 5th Congressional District.

Susan Hatfield won the attorney general endorsement, Susan Chapman won the secretary of the state endorsement, Thad Gray won the state treasurer endorsement, and Kurt Miller won the endorsement for state comptroller.

Manny Santos won the endorsement for the 5th Congressional District where he will compete against Jahana Hayes, who will also appear on the Working Families Party line.

Mike Telesca, chairman of the Independent Party, said he would have liked the party to endorse a truly independent candidate, but he’s also grateful they will maintain the ballot line, especially in the governor’s race.

Telesca had previously been critical of the Danbury faction for endorsing only Republicans.

“The process works,” Telesca said. “I would have preferred to have more of our own candidates, but we have good candidates. Bob’s good.”

He said without its own candidates it risks losing the 1 percent of the vote necessary to maintain the ballot line.