connecticut politics

Republicans Call for Chairman to Step Down Following Second Congressional District Debacle

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After primary day last Tuesday, we are finally learning the results of one race that was-neck and-neck.

Justin Anderson was declared the victor in the race for Second Congressional District in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

He beat out Thomas Gilmer, who was arrested on a felony strangulation charge the day before the primary.

When it became known that some members of the Republican Party were aware of allegations of domestic abuse, a handful of Republicans called for a change in leadership.

“It’s a terrible incident about domestic violence and allegations of such with a candidate that’s supposed to represent all of us in Washington D.C. Needs to be a problem for every republican in the state,” Jayme Stevenson said. 

Stevenson is the First Selectwoman of Darien. She said there needs to be better vetting of candidates before they land on the ballot.

“I don’t believe that he and others who knew did everything that they could or everything that they were supposed to have done,” Stevenson said.  

After calls for him to resign, Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said he has no plans to step down.

He said by the time the information was reported to police – the accused candidate --Thomas Gilmer was already on the ballot.  

It was his opponent Justin Anderson that ultimately obtained and turned over that video.

Gilmer was later arrested on felony domestic assault charges last week and has yet to enter a plea. 

“I think what everyone here needs to understand is Tommy Gilmer’s direct political opponent came to me with these accusations the day before the actual convention for choosing candidates,” Romano said. 

Romano said he told Justin Anderson to go to authorities. 

“I encouraged Mr. Anderson to go to police if he felt that strongly that his was real. It needed to be corroborated by the professionals,” Romano said. 

Bob Stefanowski who ran for governor in 2018 said in a statement that Romano should step down. 

“The chairman was put in a difficult position trying to balance the wishes of the victim to remain anonymous with doing the right thing to help her, but he should have disclosed all relevant information to the party leadership as soon as he knew about it so they could make an informed decision on the best candidate for the second district,” Stefanowski said.

After a recount in the race that was too close to call last week, Anderson won by 81 votes.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to Gilmer and has yet to receive a comment.

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