Trump, Biden Declared Winners in Connecticut as Primary Season Comes to a Close

August 12, 2020by Christopher Keating, The Hartford Courant (TNS)
Chad Chisholm checks in before taking the time to vote during Connecticut's primary day election at Annie Fisher Montessori Magnet School on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Hartford, Connecticut. (Kassi Jackson/Hartford Courant/TNS)

HARTFORD, Conn. — In the final primaries of the year nationwide, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden were declared the winners Tuesday night as Connecticut closed out the primary season for the presidential candidates.

The Associated Press called the race for Biden at 8:17 p.m. EDT and then for Trump soon after.

The Connecticut primary had been postponed twice due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus pandemic — pushing the contest into August and making the state the last in the nation to vote.

The Republican and Democrat national conventions are slated later this month to make it official that Trump and Biden will be facing off in the general election in November. Even though Trump and Biden have been widely seen as the nominees for months, the Connecticut primaries were still held because other candidates qualified for the ballot and did not withdraw their names in writing to state election officials.

The congressional primary in the 2nd District in eastern Connecticut was unexpectedly thrown into chaos Tuesday when voters learned that the Republican Party’s endorsed candidate, Thomas Gilmer of Madison, had been arrested late Monday on domestic violence charges in connection with a violent altercation in 2017 with a former girlfriend. Gilmer announced that he was dropping out of the race, but it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.

In fact, some residents had already voted for Gilmer by absentee ballot. He was facing off against Justin Anderson, a U.S. Army combat veteran who was involved in air assaults against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A warrant for Gilmer’s arrest says that a video shows that he “attempts to choke the victim followed by multiple closed fist punches to the victim’s face. Gilmer then takes off his T-shirt in the middle of the assault, and places the victim into a rear choke hold.”

Gilmer, the founder of a construction management company, had blamed Anderson for “slinging mud” as reports had surfaced prior to his arrest.

The Republicans will be battling in the fall against U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat who has held the seat since defeating Rep. Rob Simmons in 2006. Former gubernatorial candidate Tim Herbst said the Republicans need to make a strong push in the 2nd District, which has been trending Republican at a time when the party’s previous stronghold, Fairfield County, has been trending Democratic in congressional and presidential races.

“The map has flipped,” Herbst said. “Eastern Connecticut is the one area of the state that has been trending Republican.”

Herbst said that Gilmer’s withdrawal from the race was an embarrassment to the party.

“Every candidate needs to be properly vetted by the party,” Herbst said. “When we continue to get our teeth kicked in, at the end of the day, the party gets a black eye.”

No official results were expected Tuesday in primaries because Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order that said any absentee ballots that were postmarked Tuesday and delivered by Thursday could still be counted.

In another congressional contest, Republican Mary Fay of West Hartford was battling Tuesday night against Jim Griffin of Bristol in the wide-ranging 1st District that stretches from Cromwell, Manchester and East Windsor to Litchfield County.

Fay was the party’s endorsed candidate, and she is running to come full circle against longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. John Larson of East Hartford, who has held the seat since defeating Republican attorney Kevin O’Connor in 1998.

Fay grew up in East Hartford, and did not know at the time that she was learning from a future politician.

“Lo and behold, when I got to high school, my history teacher was none other than Mr. John B. Larson,” Fay recalled recently. “He coached the basketball team on which I was a player. I got to know him in that capacity. Then my mom taught his children in town.”

After graduating from Skidmore College in upstate New York, Fay said, “I’ve had the benefit of really a lot of luck and a lot of good people around me. I achieved a very high rank at a young age. When I was in my 30s, I was a senior vice president at GE Capital. It took me a lot of places.”

In her fourth run for office in four years, Fay is known for enthusiastic campaigning and pushing for Republican causes.

Republicans have admitted they have been flummoxed in trying to defeat Larson, who has often won by large margins every two years in a heavily Democratic district.

“We’ve tried men, women, small business owners, investment brokers, engineers, office workers — all kinds of people we thought would have the right appeal to put a Republican in the 1st Congressional (District) seat,” said Juliana Simone of Barkhamsted, who had seconded the nomination of Griffin. Fay out-polled Griffin in the nominating contest in May, but Griffin qualified for the primary.

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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