Updated 2:42 p.m. Friday with Warren Peña comment.
NORWALK, Conn. – The Aug. 12 Democratic primary election in the 140th legislative district just got a bit more real.
A paperwork snafu cost presumed Republican candidate Harold Bonnet a chance to run for the seat in the General Assembly, leaving Norwalk’s GOP without a candidate for the November election.
Meanwhile, four-term incumbent Bruce Morris, the Democratic Party-backed candidate, and former at-large Common Councilman Warren Peña will duke it out in the primary.
Morris, who also works as the Human Relations Officer for Norwalk Public Schools, beat Peña, 222-99, in a May 20 district vote to win the party nomination. Peña has since obtained the 200-plus petition signatures he needed to force a primary.
Morris said it did not matter to him who he would face.
“Regardless of who my opponent may be, I’ll be running on my record of service to the community of Norwalk,” he said in an email to NancyOnNorwalk. “It’s been an honor serving as state representative for the past eight years. I’ve successfully brought home more pre-K seats, additional education funding, and jobs programs. I hope the voters will re-elect me so I can continue to serve the people of Norwalk.”
Peña, who responded Friday to the late Thursday night inquiry, said he is focusing squarely on Morris.
“Frankly, I have my eyes on one opponent, Bruce Morris,” he said. “He is my only focus. The 140th voters really have two options, myself or Morris, as it is a heavily Democratic district.”
Republican Town Committee Chairman Peter Torrano had expressed enthusiasm for the Republican District B chairman, a Haitian immigrant who is, Torrano said, dedicated to the party.
“Being Republican means the interest of America,” Bonnet said when he was nominated. “Our state and our people comes first. From the top of the Democrat Party they act like pirates, and from the bottom, not a word from their mouths can be trusted. Honestly, our goal as Republicans, the point to respect our word is our integrity.”
Torrano called Bonnet “one of the hardest working people in our party, without question.”
“If I could harness Harold’s energy and spread it out among the other people in the party, we’d have a wonderful party because this is one hardworking son of a gun, I’ve got to tell you,” Torrano said.
Bonnet was not the first choice for a Republican in the district. It was Bonnet who touted Congolese immigrant Roger Gisanga for the slot. Gisanga was announced by the party as its candidate, but withdrew about two weeks later, citing personal reasons. That’s when Bonnet stepped up.
According to Torrano, forms that had been obtained from the Secretary of State’s office were filed with the Norwalk Town Clerk’s Office when Gisanga was nominated. The papers should have been filed with the state. When the snafu was discovered, and Gisanga had decided to step down, the papers were not refiled, he said. Then, when Bonnet was nominated, papers were submitted, but the deadline had passed.
“You have two weeks to file papers after the nominating convention or vote,” Torrno said. “When we found out about the mistake, we knew Roger wasn’t going to run so we didn’t submit them again. When we nominated Harold, we set in the papers, but, because we missed the original deadline, we couldn’t submit a replacement candidate.”
Torrano said the only way the Republicans could get someone on the ballot now is to find someone to run unaffiliated, but with Republican values. They would have to obtain 520 petition signatures by Aug. 6 to get on the November ballot. He said there was been no official decision, but he does not expect Bonnet to run.