Mer­rill sails past chal­lenger de­spite vot­ing snafu.

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Kait­lyn Kras­selt kkras­selt@hearst­medi­act.com; 203-842-2563; @kait­lynkras­selt

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.

Comptroller

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.

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