NORWALK, Conn. — Stephanie Thomas has announced a run for Connecticut Secretary of State.
Thomas, who is serving her first term as District 143’s State Representative, is the only Democrat to have filed a Candidate Committee for the position, indicating that she is formally pursuing the position, her news release said. Several Democrats have filed Exploratory Committees to pursue statewide office but have not decided whether to seek a particular office.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, has held the seat for three terms but announced in June she would not be running next year, making her the only constitutional officer not expected to run for reelection.
Four Democrats have previously indicated interest in the position, multiple news reports say, naming State Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown, State Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden, State Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, and New Haven Alder Darryl Brackeen Jr.
“A Republican has not served as Secretary of the State since 1995. But this election, two GOP candidates have thrown their hats in the ring: Dominic Rapini, a senior account manager at Apple, and Brock Weber, an aide to Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain,” CT Examiner reports.
The Secretary of State position has taken on greater significance given the allegations made by former President Donald Trump, who claims voter fraud in his defeat to Joe Biden.
“For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about civic engagement,” Thomas is quoted as saying to supporters at a campaign launch in Norwalk. “Voting is the underpinning of our democracy, and it breaks my heart when I hear people say that they don’t plan to vote or that voting doesn’t matter.”
She said, “Apathy often wins more elections than our political parties and I believe it is time for that to change. I am very excited to be here with all of you this morning to announce the launch of my campaign for Secretary of the State of Connecticut.”
Thomas turned a red seat blue last year when she defeated Republican candidate Patrizia Zucaro in the State Representative race. Gail Lavielle had represented District 143, comprised of parts of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport, for a decade and supported Zucaro.
“Thomas is a small business owner who has spent three decades advising and problem-solving for nonprofit organizations,” her news release said. “…In Hartford she sponsored and helped to pass a variety of voter focused bills such as automatic voter registration at state agencies and resolutions to advance early voting and no-excuse absentee ballot voting.”
“Although I love being a State Representative, I had no control over the timing of Secretary Merrill’s departure and this opportunity was too perfect a match for my interests to let it go by,” Thomas said Thursday in an email to NancyOnNorwalk. “My passion for voter rights and civic engagement, coupled with my interest in creating transparency and efficiency in government, makes this position an ideal fit for me. I think I’ve accomplished a lot in one term and I know that there are other strong Democrats who will continue that work in 2022.”
“Stephanie Thomas has been a wonderfully responsive and knowledgeable advocate for Wilton as State Representative for the 143rd District,” Tom Dubin, Wilton Democratic Town Committee Chairman, said in a statement. “During her tenure she has distinguished herself through a commitment to ballot access, including early voting and more convenient registration. In addition, her background as a small business owner provides experience and insight that would support Connecticut’s entrepreneurs and business owners. Stephanie would make an ideal Secretary of the State and we are pleased that she has thrown her hat into this ring.”
“We have strong a Democratic Party here in Norwalk,” said Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez. “We’ve built a great bench of elected officials at the municipal, state, and federal levels. I’m proud of the work they do and all their aspirations for our community. I encourage and admire those who want to serve on a larger stage to consider it and let the voters decide.”
Thomas is quoted as saying, “Although the position has become synonymous with voting rights and elections, the Secretary of the State’s office is responsible for so much more. I will fight for every Connecticut resident, with transparency, advocacy, and integrity. I have made a career out of problem-solving and finding solutions that work and I will bring that same proactive attention to the position of Secretary of the State to champion transparency in government, streamlined business processes, and to strengthen trust in our elections.”
Updated, 1:44 p.m. Thursday: Additional information.
Updated, 9:41 p.m.: Additional information.