HARTFORD, Conn. — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski is suing the state and the Connecticut Independent Party after he lost the party’s nomination last week in a tiebreak vote.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Stefanowski's team claims the Independent Party flagrantly violated its own bylaws. The suit aims to force the Secretary of the State to remove Independent candidate Rob Hotaling and his running mate from the November ballot.
“What they're trying to do is limit choice for hundreds of thousands of voters across the state,” Hotaling said.
He said he expected this legal challenge after a heated Independent Party caucus. Hotaling, the party-endorsed candidate, won with a now contested tie-breaking vote from the Independent Party chairman.
Stefanowski initially led Hotaling by four votes, 79 to 75, but a win requires 80, so party officials initiated a second “ranked choice” ballot leading to a 79-79 tie.
“I think that there's a reason why Bob wants me off the ballot,” said Hotaling. “It's because Republicans have controlled the Independent line for many election cycles.”
Stefanowski's team wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.
Secretary of the State Mark Kohler, a defendant in this case, said in a statement, “We have no comment on the litigation other than what we provided in writing to Mr. Stefanowski’s representatives, that is, the Secretary of the State has no authority to resolve disputes over party rules such as this.”
The Democratic ticket also weighed in. Incumbent lieutenant governor Susan Bysiewicz said she doubts this lawsuit will be successful.
“Parties have the constitutional right to choose whom they would like to endorse, so I can’t see how the Independent Party’s endorsement of Rob Hotaling changes at all,” she continued.
Hotaling said his team will be watching these legal proceedings, but are moving full steam ahead with their campaign.
“We're confident that we're on the right side of history on this and Bob and his team are on the wrong side of history on this,” he said.
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