NEW BRITAIN, CT – A Fairfield woman who is suing the State Elections Enforcement Commission for not allowing her to use public campaign funds for childcare is seeking her party’s nomination to run again in a January special election.
Caitlin Clarkson Pereira, who challenged the SEEC earlier this year, announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for state Rep. Brenda Kupchick’s seat. Kupchick, a Republican, resigned on Friday following her election as First Selectwoman of Fairfield. Jennifer Leeper, a Democratic member of the Board of Education, is also competing for the party’s nomination. On the Republican side, Brian Farnen, a four-term member of the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting, will seek his party’s nomination.
Pereira ran against Kupchick in 2018 and lost by 1,000 votes.
The governor has 10 days to issue a writ of election to choose a successor once a vacancy is declared. Then a special election must be held on the 46th day after the writ is issued, which means it’s likely the special election will be held in January.
Meanwhile, Pereira’s lawsuit is slowing winding its way through the court system after several delays requested by her attorneys.
Just last week, Pereira’s attorneys filed a brief in her lawsuit against state election regulators.
“It’s been almost sixteen months since my initial request was made to SEEC. Had SEEC ruled in our favor, they would have been following precedent set by the Federal Election Commission and ten other states,” Pereira said. “We are now in the 2020 election cycle and every day that goes by without a ruling means that Connecticut could potentially be losing qualified and energetic candidates to run for office – both women and men – because they are unsure if they will be able to run a race without the personal financial burden of childcare for their children.”
The SEEC decided in April that once a candidate qualifies for Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program, they may not use campaign funds for childcare costs under any circumstances.
The lawsuit alleges that the SEEC ruling is unconstitutional because it is “discriminatory against women without serving any legitimate purpose.”
The latest brief argues that “the ruling not only has a disparate impact on women; it is invidious discrimination because it labels work more often performed by women as ‘personal’ while leaving undisturbed the classification of other similarly necessary campaign work – such as transportation – as a permitted campaign expenditure.”
The Attorney General’s office is representing the SEEC and has declined comment on the case outside of the court filings. Their next brief will be filed at the end of the month.