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Candidate Is Ahead In Conn. Primary Even After Dropping Out Due To Arrest

Thomas Gilmer

Connecticut’s Republican Party endorsed Thomas Gilmer in Tuesday’s primary election for the 2nd Congressional District. Then police arrested Gilmer on domestic violence charges. He ended his campaign the night before the primary, but Gilmer could still end up on the ballot in November.

Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said officials may still be counting absentee ballots for the primary into Thursday. So, voters do not know whether Gilmer beat his primary challenger, Justin Anderson, for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Congressman, Joe Courtney.

Jonathan Wharton, professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University, said if Gilmer does win the primary, and drops out, voters may not automatically get to decide his replacement. Wharton says state and local town committee bosses will all want a say to decide between a rushed special election or tapping a new candidate.

“I imagine that maybe one of the better ways is to create a special committee between all those people involved within state central who are representing those districts, as well as the local Republican town committees, so they can come up with a process and a way to deal with this,” Wharton said.

Wharton said the potential runner-up, Anderson, was not endorsed by the state Republican party. He said that might make a case to hold a special election, even with just a few months to campaign between now and the general election.

State Republican Party Chair J.R. Romano said he knew about his endorsed candidate’s domestic violence allegations three months ago, when Anderson brought it up. Romano said he wanted to wait for an investigation of Gilmer’s alleged abuse by “proper authorities”.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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