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In CT secretary of state primaries, Democrats and GOP split paths

Republicans favor photo ID for voting; Democrats question claims of widespread voter fraud

Guilford residents vote in the 2021 municipal election. (Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org)

The 2022 Election is Nov. 8. A primary is being held Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Republicans and Democrats are competing in very different primaries Tuesday for secretary of the state, a relatively non-partisan outpost of state government before Donald J. Trump tried to convince Americans their elections were rigged.

“All of a sudden, everything’s being questioned,” said Denise Merrill, the Democrat who recently stepped down after a dozen years. “I think that has totally changed the importance of this office, because I think your primary job now as secretary of the state is explaining the election process to the public.”

To varying degrees, the Republicans, Dominic A. Rapini of Branford and State Rep. Terrie Wood of Darien, are leaning into Trump’s issues of fraud and public confidence, while disagreeing with Trump’s claim that Joe Biden stole the White House.

Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk won the party endorsement for secretary of the state at the Democratic convention in Hartford on May 7, 2022. (Joe Amon, Connecticut Public)

In the Democratic contest, Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk and Maritza Bond of New Haven are trying to excite the base over the opportunity to elect the first woman of color to the statewide office: Thomas as a Black woman; Bond as a Latina. Thomas is the party-endorsed candidate, while Bond has a significant labor endorsement.

Bond, the director of health in New Haven, has tried to capitalize on an endorsement from the state AFL-CIO with an ad attacking Thomas for missing a vote on a labor contract and voting with 16 other Democrats last year against bill requiring hotels, food service contractors and others to recall workers laid off during COVID-19 in order of seniority.

Maritza Bond seeking the endorsement for secretary of the state at the Democratic convention in Hartford on May 7, 2022. (Andrew Brown, CTMirror.org)

Thomas and Bond are unified, however, in questioning the Republican emphasis on election fraud, signaling a divide in the general election regardless of who wins on Tuesday.

The party-endorsed candidate in the Republican primary is Rapini, an Apple marketing executive who has made voter fraud and election integrity his calling, formerly chairing a non-profit, Fight Voter Fraud Inc.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission delivered an extraordinary rebuke of the group last year, saying the dozens of complaints it filed were unsubstantiated, betrayed little knowledge of election law and wasted the agency’s time. The rebuke was first reported by Hearst Connecticut.