Harry Arora poses for a picture
Republican state treasurer candidate Harry Arora poses for a picture after a Sept. 21, 2022 press conference Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

The Connecticut Independent Party sought to intervene Thursday in a lawsuit by Republican state treasurer candidate Harry Arora who asked the court to remove the party’s candidate, Jennifer Baldwin, from the ballot. 

Arora, a state representative from Greenwich, filed a lawsuit early this week, arguing that the Independent Party violated a requirement that minor political parties re-submit their bylaws to the secretary of the state at least 60 days before nominating their candidates. The rule was established by a 2019 court ruling. 

Because the Independent Party had not refiled its bylaws since 2010, Arora’s attorney Proloy Das argued its candidates were not authorized to appear on the ballot.

The complaint names only Secretary of the State Mark Kohler as a defendant but in a Thursday court filing, the Independent Party asked to intervene in the case to protect its own interests. 

“Baldwin is the lawful party-endorsed candidate and the party wishes to provide voters with an alternative to candidates of the two major parties,” attorney William Bloss wrote. “Further, if Baldwin is not on the ballot, the Independent Party will ‘lose’ the line for that office for the 2026 election and would need to engage in the expensive and difficult process of seeking access by petitioning.”

The lawsuit is the second attempt by a Republican to remove an Independent candidate from the ballot since the minor party made its nominations in August. Last week, Judge Cesar Noble rejected a bid by GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski to strip Independent candidate Rob Hotaling from the ballot over allegations the party violated its own bylaws at its nominating caucus. 

Responding to the Arora lawsuit, Independent Party Chairman Mike Telesca called the complaint “ridiculous” and argued it was not common practice for third parties to re-submit their rules. While the secretary of the state’s office would not comment on the pending lawsuit, a spokesman said minor parties do not refile bylaws with any regularity. 

Asked about his complaint following a House Republican press conference in Hartford on Wednesday, Arora, who is also facing Democratic candidate Erick Russell and Libertarian Party candidate JoAnna Laiscell, said the Stefanowski lawsuit demonstrated that the Independent Party did not have to strictly follow its own rules.

“Now we see that they have also not obeyed state law,” he said. 

Arora said he did not believe he got a fair shake during the minor party’s nominating convention, which was held at a community center in Guilford on Aug. 23. He speculated he may have won a cross-endorsement by the Independent Party had its nominating caucus been held closer to Fairfield.

“We don’t believe that the caucus was run fairly and fairness has a role in our society — is the essence of our society — and now we realized from all the filings that they have shown total disregard, not only for their own laws but for state laws as well,” Arora said. “We believe that laws need to be followed and no one is above the rule of law.”

On Tuesday, Telesca said the Republican attempts to bar Independent Party candidates from the ballot were due to a sense of entitlement as a result of years of the minor party cross-endorsing Republicans in an effort to preserve a line on the ballot when it was not running candidates of its own.

However, Arora said he filed the complaint partly in an effort to earn every available vote in what he believes will be a close race. 

“Listen, this is a tight race to start with. We think we are a little ahead but it’s going to be a very close race, which really means every vote matters,” Arora said.