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Stefanowski sues to knock Independent Party nominee off the ballot

Mark Pazniokas
CT Mirror
Bob Stefanowski consulting with Bill Evans, a supporter, while his running mate, Laura Devlin watches on the night of the Independent Party caucus last month.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski, who lost a disputed caucus vote for a cross endorsement from the Independent Party last month, sued Thursday to knock the winner off the ballot.

Stefanowski and his running mate, Laura Devlin, are seeking an injunction forcing the secretary of the state to remove the ticket of Rob Hotaling and his running mate, Stuart “Chip” Beckett, from the ballot in November.

The suit filed in Superior Court would remove Hotaling and Beckett from the ballot, but not give a second ballot line to Stefanowski and Devlin.

“It is unfortunate that Bob believes that fewer choices for voters would be a good thing,” Hotaling said. “As a businessman, ask Bob in what industry is less choice a good thing. In a state where the largest voting bloc is registered unaffiliated voters, I believe Bob is wrong.”

Stefanowski’s campaign declined Thursday to comment on the suit.

Stefanowski complained that the Independent Party’s chairman, Mike Telesca, did not follow his party’s bylaws when voters at the party’s nominating caucus deadlocked with 79 votes each for Stefanowski and Hotaling.

Rather than order a new vote as called for in the bylaws, Telesca cast a tie-breaking vote for Hotaling. Telesca already had cast one vote.

Stefanowski also complained his name was left off the printed ballots, forcing his supporters to write in his name.

William Bloss, an elections lawyer who has represented the Independent party, said state law grants great discretion to minor parties in how they endorse candidates.

Last week, the office of Secretary of the State Mark Kohler rejected Stefanowski’s request that it invalidate the caucus vote, saying it had no such authority.

Kohler declined to comment on the substance of the suit Thursday.

“We have no comment on the litigation other than what we provided in writing to Mr. Stefanowski’s representatives, that is, the Secretary of the State has no authority to resolve disputes over party rules such as this,” Kohler said.

Launched in 2010, The Connecticut Mirror specializes in in-depth news and reporting on public policy, government and politics. CT Mirror is nonprofit, non-partisan, and digital only.