CT election updates: Elicker wins New Haven mayoral primary; Derby mayor race headed to recount
Turnout was low across Connecticut for Tuesday's primary elections as Democrats chose mayoral nominees in three of the state’s four largest cities.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the small Connecticut town of Derby were deciding whether to unseat their three-term incumbent mayor in favor of a local official recently charged in federal court for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The winners will advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Here's a roundup of results from selected races across the state:
Shortly after midnight, Bridgeport's mayoral primary still too close to call
Incumbent Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim and challenger John Gomes, his former aide, were locked in a dead-heat for the Democratic primary late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
The race is expected, once again, to be decided by absentee ballots.
Ganim was last re-elected in 2019, after also facing a primary challenge; during that primary, he narrowly defeated state Sen. Marilyn Moore by 270 votes.
Accusations of irregularities over absentee ballots prompted several investigations during that election.
West Haven Republicans choose their November candidate
West Haven Republicans chose Barry Lee Cohen to face off against a Democratic candidate for mayor in November. In a landslide, he ousted the party-endorsed candidate, Paige Weinstein.
West Haven was embroiled in scandal last year after one Democratic official was convicted of stealing COVID-19 relief funds. Cohen says he will use his experience to revitalize business in West Haven.
“I have a plan for the shoreline. I have a plan for our downtown, to stop making it a dump," Cohen said. "I have a plan for a renaissance that is happening in New Haven.”
Cohen will face off against Democrat Dorinda Borer in November.
Arulampalam declares victory in Hartford mayoral primary
Arunan Arulampalam has declared himself the winner of a three-way Democratic primary in Hartford.
Arulampalam, CEO of a group that redevelops blighted properties called the Hartford Land Bank, went into Tuesday’s primary with a number of advantages. He was endorsed by Hartford Democrats and outgoing Mayor Luke Bronin.
His opponents were Eric Coleman, a former judge and state lawmaker, and state Sen. John Fonfara.
GOP mayoral primary involving alderman facing charges in Jan. 6 riot headed for recount
A Republican primary between the incumbent mayor of Connecticut’s smallest city and an alderman facing criminal charges that he entered the U.S. Capitol with a mob of rioters appeared to be headed for a recount.
Final unofficial results showed a tight contest in the race in Derby, a city of 12,400 people about 50 miles northeast of New York City.
Mayor Richard Dziekan had 192 votes. Challenger Gino DiGiovanni Jr. had 202. Races decided by less than 20 votes trigger an automatic recount.
"It is anticipated that the recount will take place on Friday Sept. 15, 2023, at 12:00 noon at Derby City Hall," City Clerk Mark Garofalo said in an email.
Arunan Arulampalam leads Hartford mayoral primary
Arunan Arulampalam, the head of a local nonprofit with no previous elected experience, was leading Tuesday’s three-way Democratic primary in Hartford.
A victory would put Arulampalam, 37, on course to become the next mayor of the heavily Democratic city. His opponents are Eric Coleman, a former judge and state lawmaker, and state Sen. John Fonfara.
Elicker wins New Haven mayoral primary
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker easily won New Haven’s Democratic primary Tuesday night, defeating a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Obama and early Trump administrations.
The victory sets Elicker on the path to claim his third two-year term as mayor in November.
Derby mayoral race so tight, it triggers a recount
Unofficial results in Derby show the contest between incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Dziekan and alderman Gino DiGiovanni, Jr. is headed for a recount.
DiGiovanni, who was charged by federal prosecutors for entering the U.S. Capitol during the Jan 6. riot, was up by only 10 votes, according to an unofficial final tally released by City Clerk Marc J. Garofalo shortly after 8 p.m.
That small margin will trigger an automatic recount, Garofalo said.
Around 400 Republicans voted in the small town located about 10 miles west of New Haven.
— Eddy Martinez
Elicker takes commanding lead in New Haven primary
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker appears poised to crush his Democratic primary opponent, Liam Brennan, a former assistant U.S. attorney.
The New Haven Independent reports Elicker was up by more than a 2-to-1 margin with only one precient left to report around 8:30 p.m.
Derby reports nearly 30% Republican turnout an hour before polls set to close
In Derby, 29% of the city's registered Republicans had cast a primary ballot as of 7 p.m. That amounts to 370 people, City Clerk Marc J. Garofalo reported.
The race is between incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Dziekan and alderman Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., who was charged by federal prosecutors in August for entering the U.S. Capitol during the Jan 6. riot.
The Republican primary winner will advance to the November general election to face Democrat Joe DiMartino, a former alderman. November's race is expected to be close.
Secretary of the State says polls running smoothly so far
Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said she visited several polling locations Tuesday morning and, as of midday, no issues had been reported.
Voter turnout was low and some residents were unaware Tuesday is a primary election, Thomas said.
"A lot of people don't know when a primary is happening," Thomas said. "People respond to the mass advertising you see in presidential elections. It's top of mind for everyone, not so locally."
Thomas reminded voters to be in line to vote or drop off their absentee ballots by 8 p.m.
In New Haven, early morning turnout is slow
Poll workers say voting was off to a slower start in New Haven’s mayoral primary election Tuesday morning.
About 10 residents had cast their ballot within the first hour of polls opening at the former city hall voting location.
Lifelong New Haven resident Shirlice Bromell submitted an absentee ballot to the box stationed outside 15 minutes after polls opened.
Bromell believes residents should be able to vote in primaries regardless of party affiliation.
“People should have the right to vote [for] who they want to vote, whether you’re Democrat, Republican or Independent, they should have that right,” Bromell said.
New Haven’s main primary election is for the Democratic mayoral seat. Liam Brennan is running against incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker.
Short lines seen at Hartford polls
Lines were short in the early morning hours at the Hartford Public Library on Tuesday.
Dawn Merritt was eager to cast her vote. She said it’s time to focus on drug and crime issues.
“I see a lot of homeless, I see a lot of not so good things," Merritt said. "I'm looking for someone who is gonna revamp and put some hope into the city."
Arunan Arulampalam faces Eric Coleman, a former judge and state lawmaker and state Sen. John Fonfara in the primary for mayor.
A number of races are taking place across Connecticut Tuesday. Here are the details:
In Bridgeport, incumbent Democratic mayor Joe Ganim is seeking another four-year term in office. He faces a primary contest from Democrat John Gomes, a former aide to the mayor. Ganim previously fired Gomes in an act Gomes has characterized as retaliation for Gomes exploring his own Bridgeport mayoral run.
Ganim first served as mayor from 1991 to 2003 before spending seven years in federal prison for corruption and extortion charges stemming from his time in office.
He achieved an unlikely political comeback in 2015, winning the mayoral election. Ganim has touted economic development initiatives, financial stability and better quality of life in each of the city's neighborhoods under his second administration.
Ganim was re-elected in 2019, after facing a primary challenge; during the primary, he narrowly defeated state Sen. Marilyn Moore by 270 votes.
In Derby, located about 10 miles west of New Haven, incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Dziekan faces a primary challenge from alderman Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., who was charged by federal prosecutors in August with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
DiGiovanni, who was elected 10 months after the attack, has acknowledged being at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but has denied any wrongdoing. He has the local Republican Party committee's endorsement, which Dziekan did not seek.
Dziekan, first elected mayor in 2017, has faced criticism from voters over his management of the city and its finances. But he’s also won the backing of some Republicans who are hesitant to hand control of the city to a man on trial for an alleged role in the Capitol riot.
The Republican primary winner will advance to the November general election to face Democrat Joe DiMartino, a former alderman. That contest could be competitive regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s primary. In 2021, Dziekan narrowly won re-election over DiMartino by a 48-vote margin. And while Derby does have a lot of Republican voters, it also has many voters who are unaffiliated.
There were roughly 2,800 total votes cast in three of the last four mayoral general elections in Derby. The mayor of Derby serves a two-year term.
A three-way Democratic primary in Hartford is likely to determine the next mayor of Connecticut’s capital city.
Incumbent Mayor Luke Bronin announced last November he wouldn’t run for a third term, leaving an open seat in the heavily Democratic city.
Arunan Arulampalam, the CEO of a group that redevelops blighted properties called the Hartford Land Bank, has an advantage over his primary challengers. He was endorsed by Hartford Democrats, and Bronin, in July.
Arulampalam will face Eric Coleman, a former judge and state lawmaker, and state Sen. John Fonfara in the primary.
City councilman Nick Lebron, a Democrat, didn’t qualify for the primary but says he has received enough signatures to get on the general election ballot in November, which will also feature a Republican challenger: Mike McGarry, who served on the city council in the 1990s.
Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker seeks a third two-year term as mayor. He faces a challenge from Liam Brennan, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Obama and early Trump administrations.
Elicker was first elected in 2019 after gathering 58% of the vote against the incumbent mayor, Toni Harp. He did not face a primary challenge in 2021.
Elicker cites his experience leading the city during the COVID-19 pandemic and his work to make the city more friendly to renters. He’s been endorsed by several top Democratic officials in the state, including Gov. Ned Lamont and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Brennan, a former legal aid lawyer and the first inspector general in Harford, cites his experience investigating allegations of police misconduct and says he’ll prioritize public safety and justice reform. He’s the only one of three challengers to make it on the primary ballot.
The winner will head to the November general election as the Democratic candidate. November’s mayoral ballot will also include Tom Goldenberg as the Republican and Independent candidate, as well as Wendy Hamilton and Mayce Torres, who are unaffiliated candidates.
The mayor’s seat in West Haven is open after Democrat Nancy Rossi announced she would not seek reelection following a scandal in which a city official was convicted for stealing COVID-19 relief funds.
Two Republicans are vying for a spot on the November mayoral ballot. Both say they’re pro-business outsiders. Paige Weinstein is the party-endorsed candidate and a business owner. Challenger Barry Lee Cohen came just half a percentage point away from ousting Rossi in 2021, but did not seek the Republican Town Committee’s endorsement.
The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face off against Democrat Dorinda Borer in November. Borer is currently serving as a state representative. Her former husband, Richard Borer, served as West Haven mayor for much of the 1990s and early 2000s.
What do turnout and advance vote look like?
In the November 2022 general election, there were 2.2 million active voters registered in Connecticut. Of those, 36% were Democrats, 21% were Republicans and 41% were not affiliated with any party.
Turnout for the 2019 Democratic mayoral primaries in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven all hovered between 13% and 15%. The Bridgeport and Hartford mayoral primaries that year each had roughly 10,000 total votes cast; the New Haven mayoral primary had about 12,000 total votes cast. Past Republican primary turnout data is not available for Derby as the incumbent, Dziekan, was uncontested for the nomination. There were roughly 2,800 total votes cast in three of the last four mayoral general elections in Derby.
Advance voting in Connecticut is limited to voters who are unable to cast a ballot in person on Election Day. Absentee ballots must be received by Election Day. In the 2022 general election, 16% of Hartford voters cast absentee ballots, compared to 14% in Bridgeport and 11% in New Haven.
How long does vote counting usually take?
In the 2022 primaries, the Associated Press first reported results in Harford at 8:08 p.m. ET, or eight minutes after polls closed. First results in New Haven were available at 8:11 p.m. ET in Bridgeport, at 8:13 p.m. ET and in Derby at 8:43 p.m. ET. The election night tabulation ended with 100% of the vote counted by 10:44 p.m. ET in Derby, 12:17 a.m. ET in Bridgeport, 12:37 a.m. ET in Hartford and 12:44 a.m. ET in New Haven.
Connecticut Public’s Eddy Martinez, Abigail Brone, Maricarmen Cajahuaringa, Patrick Skahill, Camila Vallejo, Chris Polansky, Ray Hardman, Frankie Graziano, Jim Haddadin, Ashad Hajela, Kate Seltzer and Kay Perkins as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story originally published on Monday, Sept. 11.
Note: Arunan Arulampalam's father-in-law is Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Connecticut Public.