Norwalk’s Thomas wins Secretary of State endorsement
State Rep. Stephanie Thomas got the endorsement for secretary of the state and Erick Russell picked up the Democratic endorsement for state treasurer after several frantic hours of lobbying and vote-swapping at the Democratic convention in Hartford on Saturday.
The competitions for state treasurer and secretary of the state were on center stage as a crowded field of candidates vied for the party’s stamp of approval heading into the Democratic primaries this summer. And considerations of race and gender on the ticket played a key role in the selection of Thomas and Russell, who are Black.
In the treasurer’s race, Russell, a bond attorney and former vice chair of the state party from New Haven, outflanked both Dita Bhargava, a former Wall Street trader from Greenwich, and Karen DuBois-Walton, chief executive of the New Haven Housing Authority. He won more than 47% of the delegates on the first ballot, prompting Bhargava and DuBois-Walton to forgo a second round of voting.
The party also tossed its support behind Thomas, a Norwalk resident and state representative, for secretary of the state. She defeated an accomplished list of candidates including Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, Rep. Joshua Elliott of Hamden and New Haven’s Health Director Maritza Bond.
But with so many people in the running, it took three rounds of voting from the delegates before Thomas could secure her majority and the endorsement.
Locking up the party endorsement won’t guarantee Russell and Thomas the Democratic nomination later this year.
But it could give them a distinct advantage in the months ahead as they enter the primary season. It will also ensure that their names are at the top of the ballot when Connecticut Democrats enter the voting booths in August.
The offices of treasurer and secretary of the state are vitally important for Connecticut residents and the aspirations of the Democratic party, which is trying to maintain its hold on every statewide elected office.
The state treasurer is responsible for managing Connecticut’s investments and the pension funds for state employees. And the secretary of the state is integral to the Democratic party’s plans to expand absentee and mail-in voting throughout the state.
The candidates for both offices took their turns on stage at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford highlighting their job histories and making the case for why they would be the best person to run Connecticut’s trust funds or the state’s elections.