His critics said he’d never get the party endorsement. They also said he’d never qualify for public financing. On Wednesday afternoon the comeback of Ernie Newton to try to regain his old State Senate seat continued when the State Elections Enforcement Commission approved his application for public financing that will allow his campaign to spend roughly $95,000 between the funding grant and money he has raised. Newton has still one major hurdle in his comeback, winning the Aug. 14 Democratic primary against incumbent Ed Gomes and State Rep. Andres Ayala, both of whom have the same money to spend in a compressed primary cycle and bases of support to drag to the polls.
A staff attorney with the State Elections Enforcement Commission confirmed that Newton’s application was approved. So game on. Three candidates with the same amount of loot to spend. Newton, the self-proclaimed Moses of his peeps, is trying to become the city’s Phoenix of politics following corruption charges that forced him to resign the seat now occupied by Gomes. Newton stunned state political observers by capturing the party endorsement in May. Skeptics wondered if Newton could raise $15,000 in small donations to trigger the $80,500 public financing grant. “We raised it from the little people,” Newton told OIB Wednesday afternoon after learning he qualified for public financing. “They said it couldn’t be done.” Newton added he has 100 volunteers banging phones, door knocking and dropping campaign literature. The public financing allows Newton to commence a heavy direct mail campaign in the weeks leading up to the primary.
Connecticut’s 23rd Senate District covers about 70 percent of the city with 16 voting precincts in addition to a portion of western Stratford.
The chairman of the SEEC Stephen Cashman voted against Newton’s grant application as a protest stating “I do not believe that the Legislature would have contemplated such a situation to put us in this position of approving taxpayer money for someone with Mr. Newton’s criminal record that involves a direct violation of the public trust, and for that reason it is my message to the Legislature that this ought to be corrected. I am going to vote against this application.”