Will April showers deliver primary flowers? The 133rd City Council district is a campaign for all seasons … literally. What started last summer has segued through fall, winter and now spring. Is there any end in sight? Former State Rep. Bob Keeley and zoning commissioner Anne Pappas Phillips are engaged in a tug of war, both in the streets and judicial courts, with party-endorsed Democrats Michael DeFillipo and Jeanette Herron. A third Democratic primary in the North End district will take place April 10. The four also faced off March 6 on opposing slates in Democratic Town Committee primaries. The slate of DeFilippo and Herron won all nine seats. But the campaigning endures.
In the most recent court action the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis who overturned the results of the previous council primaries based on absentee ballot irregularities.
The cost hasn’t been cheap. The city has paid out thousands in outside legal fees. The Democratic Town Committee, in support of the endorsed candidates, has done the same.
The first primary back in September ended in a tie between Keeley and Herron with DeFilippo the leading vote producer. A recount included a previously unaccounted-for absentee ballot for Herron giving her a one-vote edge. Keeley challenged the results. Bellis ordered a new primary.
In the do-over Keeley was down 18 votes to Herron with DeFilippo once again leading. Keeley, who failed to win the machine count, and Phillips challenged the legality of their opponents absentee ballot operation. Bellis concurred, ordering another primary. Bellis said Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa prevailing upon Police Chief AJ Perez to assign a police officer to pick up absentee ballots was an abuse of the election process. The case was appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court which upheld Bellis.
Bellis ordered transcripts of court testimony sent to state law enforcement officials for review. If anything’s brewing there, it’s unclear. Keeley described Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane as “chicken” in a recent Facebook comment on Black Rock In The Know. “Arrest and prosecute corrupt Democrats,” declares Keeley.
The top two Dem finishers will face Republicans Michele Minutolo and Neville De la Rosa in the general election.
Meanwhile, absentee ballots are now available for the April 10 primary.
What’s the over/under for another court challenge? Depends on the result.