Four candidates for governor, two from each side of the political aisle, believe they have collected enough signatures to secure places on the August 14 primary ballot.
Petitions for the Democratic and Republican primaries were due by 4 p.m. Tuesday to Registrars of Voters offices all over Connecticut. If signatures were not delivered before then, they would be rejected without review.
Many petitions have already made it to the Secretary of the State’s office for certification, where officials there have already spotted errors, leading to disqualified signatures.
“You know, we’re already seeing a few problems on some pages where someone forgets to sign something or something isn’t filled in properly,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “We have absolutely no discretion it’s a very strict construction of these forms. They have to be done correctly.”
Every signature must be from someone with the party of the primary election you’re seeking to enter. Democratic candidates for office can only receive signatures from registered Democrats and Republican candidates can only seek signatures from registered Republicans. The person signing up those people also must be a registered member of the party.
Guy Smith, a Democrat who has experience in the federal government running USAID under President Bill Clinton, said the process is very hard, but adds voters will respect him more for it.
“Everything about being to be governor of Connecticut and getting to be governor of Connecticut is hard. People expect the governor to be able to do hard things,” Smith said, insisting he has collected the necessary signatures to qualify. “I do hard for breakfast. That’s why I’m in this race.”
Democrats need 15,548 signatures from registered Democrats, while Republicans need 9,081 signatures from registered Republicans. The figures represent two percent of a party’s overall registration in the state. Democrats have a significant advantage when it comes to registration and party identification.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim announced he collected more than 32,000 signatures, a staggering amount. He’s looking to create his own lane, away from the establishment Democrats’ pick of Ned Lamont as the endorsed party candidate for governor.
Ganim, who spent nearly seven years in federal prison on corruption charges stemming from his first stint as Bridgeport’s mayor, has framed his candidacy as a, “second chance,” an opportunity many in Connecticut want.
“It should remind the Democratic Party what we’re about. It is, as they say, the big tent. It should be open and diverse,” Ganim said outside the Secretary of the State’s office in Hartford. “I think that’s lacking and I think this campaign has become much more than about any one candidate or about me. I think it’s become much more of a battle for the heart and soul of the party and I hope for new leadership for Connecticut.”
Republicans saw two candidates very optimistic about their signature collections, while another Mark Lauretti, announced he would end his run for governor.
Businessmen David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski submitted signatures to challenge the three Republicans who earned spots at the May GOP State Convention. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton won the party’s endorsement while former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and tech entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik also earned ballot positions.
Stemerman is a former hedge fund manager, and said his pedigree in the private sector and investment worlds sets up well against the field and for voters.
“What they’re looking for is a fresh perspective, somebody who not just knows the problems, but what are we going to do about them, and our message of a political outsider with a business background is resonating.”