Republican state treasurer hopeful Harry Arora filed a lawsuit Monday calling on the secretary of the state to remove his Independent Party rival Jennifer Baldwin from the November ballot, alleging the minor party failed to follow state election rules.
The complaint by Arora, a state legislator from Greenwich, marks the second such lawsuit from a Republican candidate since the Independent Party nominated a slate of candidates in August. While the third party had cross-endorsed Republican candidates during recent election years, the group largely opted to nominate a slate of alternative candidates this year under chairman Michael Telesca.
Last week, a Hartford Superior Court judge spurned a similar complaint from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski who had sought to remove independent nominee Rob Hotaling from the ballot. Judge Cesar Noble instead found that state law affords minor parties more leeway to depart from their own bylaws than it does the two major parties.
However, Arora’s lawsuit, written by attorney Proloy Das, rests on the allegation that the Independent Party violated a state policy created by a previous lawsuit rather than the party’s own bylaws when it failed to file those bylaws with the secretary of the state’s office at least 60 days before it nominated its candidates.
He argued that a prior court ruling clarified that a minor party must refile its rules with the state each time it qualifies for a line on the ballot and the last time the Independent Party did so was in 2010. In his 6-page complaint, Das said that the Independent Party of Connecticut was essentially not a party at all.
“The Independent Party is not legally authorized to nominate candidates for state office in the November 8, 2022 election,” Das wrote.
“Plaintiff Arora is aggrieved as an elector and as a candidate by the improper listing of a candidate for the office of State Treasurer who is not authorized under state law to appear on the November 8, 2022 ballot,” he wrote.
A spokesperson for Secretary of the State Mark Kohler declined on Tuesday to comment on the pending lawsuit. In general, the office said it is not common for minor parties to regularly refile their bylaws.
However, reached by phone Tuesday morning, Telesca called the complaint “ridiculous.”
“Nobody refiles all their bylaws every time. The bylaws are on file and they do cover the races. As a matter of fact, all our nominations say, ‘under the Independent Party bylaws as filed on March 20, 2010,” Telesca said. “I never heard anything from the Secretary of the State’s Office about having to refile your bylaws every time. Once they’re on file, they’re on file.”
Telesca said the legal challenges by both Arora and Stefanowski reflect a Republican Party that feels entitled to cross endorsements by the third party.
“It seems pretty obvious that if they can’t control this party line then they’re going to want to destroy this party line. How else can you read it?” he said.
Telesca said the efforts seemed self-destructive given that his party did cross-endorse multiple Republican candidates in down ballot races.
In addition to Baldwin, Arora will face Democratic candidate Erick Russell and Libertarian Party candidate JoAnna Laiscell in the race for state treasurer.