Merrill sails past challenger despite voting snafu.
HARTFORD — Democrats started the second day of their state nominating convention by endorsing Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who is seeking re-election to a third term.
“The moment I knew I needed to run again was the moment when Donald Trump came after your personal information,” Merrill said during her acceptance speech Saturday at at the Connecticut Convention Center. “I said, ‘No.’ We aren’t done yet. We’re going to fight until every eligible voter is registered, and every registered voter votes.”
Karen Talamelli Cusick, Democratic town chairwoman in Woodbridge, challenged Merrill for the party’s endorsement. Cusick is finance director for Project Service LLC, which owns and operates the 23 Connecticut Service Plazas along Intersate 95, the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 395.
Though Merrill, 69, easily sailed past Cusick — taking in 89 percent of the vote to Cusick’s 11 percent — it was a bumpy ride as the state Democratic Party tested out a new electronic tally system and took in more votes than there were delegates in the first vote of the day.
“The irony of it being the election for the secretary of the state has not escaped me,” said Merrill, who is the state’s chief elections official. She lives in Hartford.
Former New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman last week accepted the unanimous support of GOP delegates for her bid to challenge Merrill in the general election.
State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who went unchallenged in his bid for the party’s endorsement for his re-election bid, used his acceptance speech to go after Republicans, bringing the crowd to its feet.
“To the leadership of the Connecticut Republican Party, be forewarned: your silence in the face of the historically outrageous behavior, language and policies of Donald Trump is complicity. Tour silence is assent. Your silence is approval, and thereby, your silence diminishes your own dignity — your own humanity — and, your own qualification to lead,” said Lembo, who lives in Guilford.
Lembo briefly considered a run for governor but opted to seek a third four-year term as the so-called “state data nerd” instead. His tenure has been marked by key policy departures with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a record that could serve Lembo well during an election season when many Democrats are distancing themselves from the retiring governor.
In the general election, Lembo will likely face Seymour First Selectman Kurt Miller, who last week took the GOP nomination for state comptroller, handily beating Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg. Greenberg also qualified for the GOP primary.