Primary election suffering from low early turnout, threatening skies

State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) talks with a voter outside the Columbus school.
State Rep. Bruce Morris (D-140) talks with a voter outside the Columbus school.

Updated 6:47 p.m. with 6 p.m. voter totals, more voter quotes.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk voters in three districts turned out in low numbers today as they went to the polls to choose who would be on the November ballot to represent them in Hartford.

As of 6 p.m., 2,477 voters – 1,259 Republicans and 1,218 Democrats – had marked their ballots in Norwalk’s 12 districts. There also were 235 absentee ballots – 83 Democratic and 152 Republican. There are more than 24,000 registered Democratic and Republican voters in Norwalk, including more than 8,500 Republicans. Democrats had races in just two districts; Republicans had two local races – one that covered all districts – plus three statewide races.

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District 140 Democratic challenger for state rep Warren Pena strikes an optimistic pose early Tuesday afternoon.
District 140 Democratic challenger for state rep Warren Peña strikes an optimistic pose early Tuesday afternoon.

The local GOP primary race on the ballot in all districts was for Republican Registrar of Voters, a contentious battle between 14-year veteran Karen Doyle Lyons and John Federici, who carries the party endorsement.

All districts also had three statewide offices on the GOP ballot, including the choice for who would carry the party banner into the fall to challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy – Tom Foley or John McKinney. Also on the ballot were choices for lieutenant governor and comptroller.

In the 142nd district, voters were to choose between endorsed Republican Emily Wilson and Fred Wilms to run against Democrat Andy Garfunkel in the fall. That race is to fill the seat to be vacated by retiring Norwalk Republican Larry Cafero after 22 years.

Democrats in the 137th and 140th state legislative districts had to decide who would represent them in the general election against an opponent yet to be named — if any.

In the 140th, four-term incumbent Bruce Morris carried the party backing into the fray against challenger Warren Peña, and, in the 137th, challenger David Watts got the party nod to challenge five-term incumbent Chris Perone.

Morris and Republican Town Committee Chairman Pete Torrano both expressed concern about the low turnout and said threatening rain could hold later numbers down as people return from work.

“It’s a very, very low turnout,” Torrano said about 3 p.m. Torrano said he had hoped the Republican governor and lieutenant governor races would bring people to the polls, but it hadn’t happened.

“That’s what happens when people are happy with the status quo,” he said. “So it looks like Foley will get the nomination.”

He declined to predict how the registrar’s race might turn.

Democratic Town Committee District D  Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra said he thought there was “a lot of complacency” amongst the voters. “There’s no true top of the ticket,” he said. “I think a lot of people feel it’s a bit of a formality” on the Republican side.

In the 137th District, one voter, Alan Carpenter, said he was voting for Lyons, and had no idea who “the other guy” is.

“She’s a friend,” he said. “She’s been doing the job a long time. She does a good job.”

Julianne Falkingham made no bones about who her choice was for state representative – Watts all the way.

“I’m voting for him,” she said, indicating the two-term Common Councilman from District A, “because he’s awesome. He does a lot to help people who have disabilities. He’s always, like, there for people. He came to my best friend’s birthday party – him and his wife and his son. They came. And it really meant a lot to her that they came.

“David does a lot to help the community, and he helps a lot of people,” she said. “I’ve always voted for him. He’s an awesome guy. I just love him so much, and I really appreciate what he does for our community.”

At the Tracey school, voter Pamela Anderson had a different take on the race, saying she had voted for Perone, who she described as a friend of both her and her son.

“He does a good job,” she said, adding that “I do not like Watts at all. He would ruin Norwalk.”

Steve Rappaport said he is voting for Perone.

“He’s done a good job for us and he’s in line to possibly take over the transportation chairmanship. And that’s really important to me.”

Brian Anderson (no relation to Pamela) had another reason for choosing Perone.

“I’ve known him for 10 years, and I’ve kept track of what he’s been doing. He’s focused on education. … That’s important to me.”

At the Columbus school in the 140th, voter Marsha Thompson, an African-American woman who says she votes in every election, told NancyOnNorwalk she had voted for Peña.

“Somehow, I just see him more in the community than Morris,” she said.

Tony Velez, a Puerto Rican-born Vietnam veteran raised in New York City and now living in Norwalk, saw things differently.

“My so-called friend Warren Peña will be upset, but I voted for Morris,” he said, explaining that he has talked with Peña several times but they are not really friends.

Velez said he felt Peña was catering too heavily to the Latino community.

“I’ve read several articles about him breaking up the community,” he said. “I don’t like to hear or see that. It seems things are directed that way in this election.”

Velez talked about the controversy surrounding the South Norwalk Community Center, Peña’s push to dismiss Executive Director Marina Forero-Ferrandino and her husband, Pat Ferrandino, and cited reports of meetings held in Spanish.

“That’s disturbing to me,” said the nearly 70-year-old self-described activist. “It’s disturbing to me in a nation where we need unity and people need to come together for the main enemy – the ruling class. They like division against working people and when I smell that, I won’t support it.”

The local Twitterverse was not too active, but state Sen. Bob Duff (D-26), Common Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez (D-District A) and Sheriff Anna Duleep each had something to tweet:

Anna Duleep, perhaps fresh off her morning coffee, seemed energized.

Eloisa Melendez paid tribute to her elders.

Sen. Bob Duff made a pitch of support for his two longtime cohorts.

CT News Junkie’s Christine Stuart tweeted early today that the 2010 Republican primary drew 29.76 percent of registered Republican voters. Today is expected to be lower, she said. Later, Junkie’s Hugh McQuaid tweeted, “As of late morning, GOP primary voter turnout on track to be somewhere in the 20s % range. Highest morning turnout was in Cornwall: 15.4%”

The turnout totals as of 6 p.m.:

  • 137A (Marvin): D-258; R-132
  • 137B (St. Mary): D-95; R-29
  • 137C (Tracey): D-237; R-98
  • 140A (Kendall): D-180; R-68
  • 140B (Columbus) D-344; R-21
  • 140C (Nathniel Ely): D-104; R-11

Republican only:

  • 141A (Roton): 131
  • 142A (Fox Run): 213
  • 142B (Ponus) 183
  • 142C (West Rocks): 154
  • 143A (Nathan Hale) 79
  • 143B (Wolfpit) 140

Totals: Democrats: 1,218; Republicans: 1,259

Absentee: D-83; R-152

This story will be updated.


7 responses to “Primary election suffering from low early turnout, threatening skies”

  1. Turnout for a PRIMARY is always low.

    This one is actually pretty good in comparison to the Malloy Lamont Primary numbers

    6:00 P.M. Count 2012 primary malloy vs Lamone % of current
    Dem Rep total by district
    137A Marvin 258 132 263 98%
    137B St Mary 95 29 144 66%
    137C Tracey 237 98 590 375 782 75% 63%

    140A Kendall 180 68 190 95%
    140B Columbus 344 21 310 111%
    140C Nat Ely 104 11 628 82 582 108% 127%

  2. Confused

    Why did the author choose to include the race and nationality of some interviewees, but not others? If you’re trying to make a point, come right out and say it.

    1. Mark Chapman


      The point was that despite what a lot of people seem to believe, the election was not all about race. Mr. Velez made that point strongly. Some people had accused Mr. Morris of saying his seat was an African-American seat, so race was an issue.

  3. Bill

    Pena and Watts each cost taxpayers $100 per primary vote received. Insane…why did they even run?

  4. peter parker

    @Bill, because they have the right to run, they won the party caucus. The voter turnout was a disgrace in the caucus and yesterdays primary! If turnout was better at the caucus its possible a primary wouldn’t have been required. So blame the apathetic voters of Norwalk! Apathy lives large in Norwalk! Very sad.

  5. Bill

    I blame two guys only out for themselves, challenging two loved incumbents who didn’t have one heck of a difference in platform with the two challengers. Failed opportunists watts and Pena.

  6. Don’t Panic

    @peter parker,
    Fact check. Pena did not win his caucus, Morris did. And both primaries were enabled by petitioning, not by caucus margins. Yes, they had the right to run, and the voters had the right to deny them the seats.

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