UPDATE: The deadline has passed for candidates to submit petition signatures to qualify for the Feb. 22 special election to fill the state rep seat vacated by Chris Caruso, now working for the Malloy administration. The following candidates submitted petitions to election officials today: veteran police officer Verna Kearney, former State Rep. Bob Keeley, City Councilman Carlos Silva, former city educator Joe Giaquinto and Mark Trojanowski, a Democratic town committee member from the East Side.
Challenge candidates will qualify for the ballot once 44 petition signatures of voters in the district are validated by election officials. That process will take a few days.
We’re seeing a potential collision course of various factions of the city’s Democratic party positioning for the seat. And the one guy who could be a deciding factor is Caruso himself, if he decides to get involved.
The Big Wave is popular in his former legislative district and no one on the planet knows Connecticut’s 126th State Assembly district better. The district include portions of the North End and Upper East Side.
Rev. Charlie Stallworth of East End Baptist Church received the party endorsement on Saturday aided by Mayor Bill Finch. Stallworth is a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of clergy that wields votes in the city. The mayor wants to keep them happy in an election year. Stallworth is also a member of the city Police Commission, but police sources say Stallworth has a meager attendance record at meetings, something that could be a campaign issue.
Verna Kearney, a veteran city police officer who isn’t afraid to mix it up on the campaign trail, was a late entry. She challenged Caruso in a primary in 1998, but she and Caruso have made peace. Could Caruso support her as part of a coalition that includes State Senator Ed Gomes?
If Caruso and Gomes can come to an agreement on supporting a candidate the Stallworth forces will have all they can handle in a light-turnout special election.
City Republicans have tapped James Keyser to run. He and Stallworth have automatically qualified for the ballot.