HARTFORD, CT — Thirteen candidates who were endorsed by the Danbury faction of the Independent Party are appealing a judge’s decision in an effort to get their names onto the ballot.
The party’s Danbury faction had endorsed their slate of candidates shortly before a Superior Court judge ruled, after several years of litigation, that the party’s Waterbury faction controls the process.
In addition to appealing Superior Court Judge Susan Peck’s decision to give the Waterbury faction control of the nomination process, attorneys for the Danbury faction want to make sure the 13 candidates they endorsed get to keep the ballot line.
In her decision, Peck instructed Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to only recognize nominations from the Waterbury faction, which held its convention a few days after the decision.
Proloy Das, the attorney filing the appeal for the 13 candidates endorsed by the Danbury faction, argues that the ballots for the 2018 election should be governed by the status quo that existed before the court’s decision on Aug. 22.
Before the decision, Merrill was allowing any uncontested Independent Party nominee to get their name onto the ballot. However, she was unable to accept nominees if the Danbury and the Waterbury faction disagreed on a candidate, like they did in 2016 — the year they lost the ballot line for the U.S. Senate because the two factions nominated two different candidates. The Waterbury faction endorsed John Price and the Danbury faction endorsed Dan Carter, who was also the Republican Party’s nominee.
Timothy Walczak, Mary Fay, Chris Forster, Mike Hurley, Lillian Tanski, Linda Szynkowicz, Sam Belsito, Don Crouch, Mitch Bolinsky, Veasna Roeun, Erin Domenech, Michael Ferguson, and Terrie Wood are the 13 candidates endorsed by the Danbury faction on Aug. 20. They are seeking to intervene in the lawsuit in the hopes of appearing on the Independent Party ballot line in November.
“Because the endorsed candidates have been validly and timely nominated, the Secretary of the State should, in accordance with her prior practice respecting the Independent Party, place their names on the ballots for the upcoming November 2018 elections, for which the Secretary of the State will soon be required to print ballots,” Das wrote.
Das said since the state is about to start printing ballots there’s a “potential for a significant impact on the state’s resources if the contours of the automatic stay are not fully defined.”
It’s unclear how quickly the court may rule on the motion.
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 49-page 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.
Michael Telesca, one of the chairmen of the Waterbury faction, has 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.
Last month, the Waterbury faction, which was given the ballot line by the court, cross-endorsed all the Republican candidates for statewide office.
Story has been edited for clarity.