Conard High School Credit: Christine Stuart photo

It was only four hours into voting, but turnout was low at West Hartford’s Conard High School. 

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, a former secretary of the state, said she hoped voting would exceed the 15 to 20% turnout predictions. She said she expected turnout to be higher in places with local legislative primaries and probate judge races. 

She predicted turnout would be higher in places like East Haddam and East Hampton where there are primaries for state rep and Bloomfield where there’s a Democratic primary for Registrar of Voters. 

“Down ballot races will drive turnout,” Bysiewicz predicted. 

Carole Mulready, the head moderator at Conard, said “people were not in tune with this primary.” 

She said it would be better to hold a primary in June or September.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Reps. Kate Farrar and Tammy Exum Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Previous attempts to move the August primary have failed in the General Assembly. 

When it comes to Democratic primaries for Secretary of the State and state Treasurer, Bysiewicz said she and Gov. Ned Lamont remain neutral. 

In that race, Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk is competing against New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond for the secretary of the state position in the Democratic primary. 

Tiffany McGuiness of West Hartford said she’s supporting Thomas because she’s run a transparent and honest campaign. 

“She’s focused on what she wants to do and hasn’t run negative campaigns like her opponent,” McGuiness said. 

She said Bond spread misinformation about Thomas and “I don’t think a candidate who spreads misinformation will be able to employ a misinformation officer.” 

Bond supporters like David McCluskey of West Hartford said she’s the best candidate for the job because she helped usher the cities of Bridgeport and New Haven through the COVID-19 pandemic and managed a staff that’s similar in size to the secretary of the state’s office. If elected she would be the first Hispanic to serve in the position.

Both Bond and Thomas said they would continuing funding for the position of misinformation officer.

There was no one at Conard High School Tuesday willing to talk about the race for state treasurer where Erick Russell of New Haven was the endorsed candidate in the Democratic primary. Russell, New Haven Housing Authority Executive Director and state Board of Education Chair Karen DuBois-Walton and Greenwich quantitative hedge fund manager Dita Bhargava are also on the ballot in that race.

Signs outside a polling place in Somers Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

As far as the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is concerned, Bysiewicz said she would love to see Trump-endorsed Leora Levy best former House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, who is the Republican endorsed candidate in that race. Peter Lumaj, who has run twice for statewide office, is also on the ballot. 

“An anti-choice female running against Dick Blumenthal, who has been a champion of choice, would offer the greatest contrast,” Bysiewicz said. 

She said Republican primary voters tend to go with the more conservative candidate, which she believes benefits the Democratic Party in the general election.

A primary polling place inside Somers Town Hall Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Meanwhile, turnout also lagged in Somers, a town of about 10,000 people where voters lean Republican. Registrar of Voters David McCaffrey said only about 200 voters had filled out ballots by late morning, around 6.3% of the town’s registered voters. 

McCaffrey said he hoped turnout would ramp up later in the day and speculated the weather may have something to do with the slow trickle of residents making their way through the polling place in the basement of Somers Town Hall while temperatures outside exceeded 90 degrees.

“I’m not sure if it’s the heat or what,” McCaffrey said. 

Residents Ava Zils and Phil Prior were among the voters to brave the midday heat. A Republican, Zils said she cast a vote for Klarides in her party’s Senate primary.

“She’s a centrist,” Zils said of Klarides, “and I don’t like extremists either way, left or right. Besides, Levy flip-flops too much and that’s not being true to yourself or the people you represent.”

Prior, also a Republican who wore an NRA ballcap to the polls Tuesday, said Klarides was the only Senate candidate to put a flier in his mailbox. 

However, he was not optimistic about his party’s chances of defeating Blumenthal in the general election in November. Republicans lacked candidates with adequate name recognition and local media has shown little interest in giving them coverage unless they found themselves in a scandal, Prior said. 

“Today, the government in Connecticut is so Democratic there’s no place for Republicans,” he said. “You’re not going to beat Blumenthal because he owns the cities.” 

In New Britain, turnout wasn’t much higher than West Hartford or Somers. 

At Pulaski Middle School around 11:45 a.m. only about 80 people had cast their vote. 

Democratic Registrar of Voters Lucian Pawlak said there just wasn’t any interest in any of the races. 

“I think of a candidate who has been to New Britain,” Pawlak said. 

He said he got about 100 text messages on his phone but the door knocking and excitement of building in-person support just doesn’t happen anymore. 

He said weather is absolutely having an impact. He said there was better turnout when primaries were held in September.

Secretary of the State Mark Kohler and Democratic Registrar of Voters Lucian Pawlak Credit: Christine Stuart photo

“Typically voters aren’t thinking about elections until September or October,” he added. 

And he doesn’t believe the turnout will improve with the absentee ballot count. He said they’d only received about 100 absentee ballots for the primary and most of those came from poll workers at their 17 polling locations in the city. 

Secretary of the State Mark Kohler said there have been no reported problems at the polls so far.