UPDATE: State Senator Ed Gomes on Wednesday filed a complaint in Bridgeport Superior Court asking a state judge to place his name on the August 9 Democratic primary ballot after his candidacy application was rejected by the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of State following a campaign paperwork glitch. Gomes wants to challenge party endorsed Dennis Bradley, chair of the Board of Education. The complaint was filed against Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. See complaint here.
Gomes has lawyered up with seasoned election attorney Bill Bloss who filed the complaint on Gomes’ behalf. A hearing is scheduled June 30 before Judge Barbara Bellis who is no stranger to resolving ballot complaints. In 2011 she ordered that Mary-Jane Foster’s name be placed on the Democratic primary ballot for mayor after local election officials denied her application.
The endorsement for Connecticut’s 23rd State Senate District took place May 23rd at Testo’s Restaurant. In a close contest Bradley won the endorsement over Gomes with Bradley supporter East End District Leader Ralph Ford chairing the convention. Gomes received plenty of delegate support to qualify for an August primary. According to the state election calendar, see here, the Gomes campaign had two weeks to submit the “15% candidate certificates filed by 14th day after close of convention.” That means paperwork on behalf of Gomes should have been submitted by 4 p.m. June 6.
As a procedural matter to set up a court challenge the Gomes campaign filed the paperwork after the fact. It was rejected by the state a few days ago. That action provides legal standing to run into court to seek relief.
The Democratic State Central Committee sets the calendar and chooses temporary convention chairs for endorsements in multi-town districts. Ford, who had supported Gomes last year in a successful special election for State Senate to fill the seat of Andres Ayala who was appointed by Governor Dan Malloy commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, was named convention chair by delegates irrespective of his support for Bradley.
Ford says the paperwork that Gomes was required to fill out was not included in his packet by the state party. A source within the state party says it was included.
“I’m not responsible for running his campaign,” said Ford last week. “It’s the candidate’s responsibility to request the paperwork from the Secretary of States Office. It’s on him to get it right.”
Courts generally expedite these judicial challenges to accommodate the election calendar.
In the complaint Bloss asserts that as convention chair that Ford had failed to follow state party rules in executing paperwork for a candidate who received enough delegate support to qualify for the ballot.
He cited state party rules. “… This list shall be certified by the permanent chairperson and secretary of the convention and shall be delivered to the Secretary of the State by the chairperson of the convention not later than forty-eight (48) hours after the close of the convention … Copies of such lists shall be delivered to the Secretary of the State Central Committee.
From the court complaint:
On information and belief the chair and the secretary of the convention failed to certify the list described above, failed to deliver it to the Secretary of the State, and failed to deliver a copy of the list to the Secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee.
Ford has publicly stated that he supported Gomes’ opponent and has publicly stated that he had no responsibility for any filings with the Secretary of the State, despite the clear language of party rules set forth above and the applicability of the party rules to the convention under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-382.
The secretary of the convention also publicly supported Gomes’ opponent.
Ford has stated publicly that the convention packet of information and materials conveyed by the Connecticut Democratic Party to him, directly or indirectly through the temporary chair of the convention, included a form to be filed by the endorsed candidate, but did not include the Certificate of Eligibility Form ED-634gl[DJ to be filed to allow a candidate receiving 15 percent of the convention delegate votes to qualify for a primary.
Ford caused the Certificate of Eligibility for the endorsed candidate to be provided to the endorsed candidate Dennis Bradley. On the night of the convention it was not reasonably possible for Gomes to have obtained the executed Certificate of Eligibility Form ED-634gl[D].
The complaint also asserts that “the Secretary has the authority to allow a late filing in the case of a candidate qualifying for a primary by virtue of obtaining 15 percent of delegate votes by virtue of differences in statutory language between Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-388 (regarding endorsed candidates) and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-400(b)(l) (regarding candidates who qualify by virtue of obtaining 15 percent of delegates).