Covid has clubbed just about everything in its wake including political norms. Democracy must advance in some fashion. Next month candidates for Congress, state legislative office and registrar of voters will be endorsed for public office per the state election calendar.
The gatherings will likely be by video or teleconference.
Here’s the rub: what to do about opponents who traditionally petition to challenge party-endorsed candidates? No one wants to be out knocking on doors asking voters to sign a petition sheet.
Governor Ned Lamont is weighing a proposal advanced by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to suspend the petitioning process and lower the convention support threshold for opponents to make the ballot.
For instance, state election law requires opponents in single-town State House districts to secure signatures from five percent of the respective party enrollment in the district to qualify for an August primary. The proposal before the governor calls for waiving the petitioning process in favor of opponents securing five percent from the endorsement body.
In Bridgeport, town committee members endorse State House candidates. Under the proposal before the governor just one or two votes from a town committee member, based on the endorsement allotment, would do the trick.
The rules are different for multi-town legislative seats. Bridgeport is split into two senate districts: 22 (Bridgeport, Trumbull, Monroe) and 23 (Bridgeport and Stratford). In each case delegates have been approved by town committee members in the respective communities to issue endorsements.
Under the current rules, opponents must receive 15 percent delegate support at the convention to make the ballot. If they don’t do that they may petition their way on as Plan B where they’d need five percent signature support from party electors in the district.
The proposal before Lamont calls for suspending the petitioning process and allowing ballot access for opponents receiving five percent delegate support at the convention, instead of 15 percent. Under that scenario opponents would need just three or four delegate votes.
Bridgeport State House members: Chris Rosario, Steve Stafstrom, Antonio Felipe, Jack Hennessy, Charlie Stallworth and Andre Baker.
State Senators: Marilyn Moore, Dennis Bradley.
There’s been little public political activity except from City Councilman Marcus Brown who’s challenging Moore.
Merrill has also asked Lamont to streamline the absentee ballot voting process by allowing all electors to vote by mail citing illness.