Cynthia Jennings Credit: Paul Bass

The same day Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced she was stepping down six months early to take care of her sick husband, Cynthia Jennings announced she would seek to join two Democrats and three Republicans in seeking the open seat.

Jennings, a former Hartford City Council member and an attorney, will run on the Griebel-Frank for CT Party line. 

However, her candidacy is not a given. First she will have to collect more than 7,500 signatures from registered voters to appear on the ballot in November. The deadline to collect those signatures is August 10. 

Monte Frank, chairman of the Griebel-Frank for CT Party, praised Jennings. 

“Cynthia has a long and outstanding record of public service and she is committed to the SAM principles of transparency, accountability, cross—partisan problem solving and election reform – principles that our government needs now more than ever,” Frank said. 

The Serve America Movement, or SAM Party Alliance, is a group that’s tired of the two party system. They don’t believe the two party system has served democracy well. 

“The Griebel-Frank for CT party and SAM are both a-political, neither red nor blue but focused instead on solving the hard issues confronting our system of government and our society,” Jennings said. “Voters are tired of the bitter partisanship that has divided our country, tired of acrimony and division and they want results.”

SAM now has organizations in seven states. 

The Griebel-Frank for CT Party has secured the line for governor without the need to petition their way onto the ballot, but has yet to announce a candidate to fill that spot.

During the 2018 gubernatorial race, R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel secured 54,741 votes — about 3.9% — in an election that ultimately went to Democrat Ned Lamont. Although Lamont beat out Republican Bob Stefanowski by 44,372 votes. Griebel’s performance was strong enough to secure his party the third line on this year’s ballot.

But the political party that bears his name moves into this year’s election cycle threading a delicate needle: Griebel, a former investment banker and longtime leader of the Metro-Hartford Alliance, died unexpectedly in 2020 when he was hit by a vehicle while jogging in Pennsylvania.

While Frank had no plans to put his own name on the ballot this year, he said the group was in discussions with several potential candidates. Jennings is the first candidate to be announced. 

“Voters can vote for the candidates they think can do the best job for our state without having to worry about the lesser of two evils or how big someone’s bank account is,” Frank said. “That’s what Oz Griebel started. That’s what the Griebel-Frank party is all about and that’s why we are still here and going to be here for a long time.

Frank has acknowledged the complexities of moving forward with a party bearing the name of a deceased man. He said the party had asked the secretary of the state whether it could change its name to the SAM party and still retain its position on this year’s gubernatorial ballot. 

But that is not possible and that’s why it’s moving forward with the Griebel-Frank for CT Party label.