In a stunning development in an already contentious race, state Sen. Toni Harp was forced Thursday to gather petitions to run for mayor after local Democrats missed a paperwork deadline.
Harp won the mayoral endorsement Tuesday night from the Democratic Town Committee by an overwhelming margin, but her place on the ballot was not automatic after the proper paperwork was not filed by the town committee’s executive board.
“They did not get their endorsement paperwork to the city clerk,” said Av Harris, a spokesman for the Secretary of the State, the state’s chief elections official. “The deadline was [Wednesday] at 4 p.m., and they didn’t meet the deadline. So there are no endorsed candidates from the Democratic Party.’’
Under the law, which is Section 9-391, Harp and all the candidates for the board of aldermen needed to have the paperwork filed Wednesday – the day after the town committee’s vote.
Reacting quickly to the Democratic blunder, Harp’s campaign sent out an emergency email Thursday with this image near the top:
And then this:
One of Harp’s other options was that she could have filed a lawsuit to ensure that she would get on the ballot, Harris told Capitol Watch in an interview.
“There have been cases in the past where people have brought a legal challenge to a decision by a municipal clerk,” Harris said. “It’s unclear whether or not that would be a viable remedy to the situation. That’s a decision that they’re going to have to make.’’
Harp’s campaign manager, Jason Bartlett, says the campaign will not be filing a lawsuit.
Now, Harp will need to gather 2,406 signatures, which represents 5 percent of approximately 48,000 registered Democrats living in New Haven.
And those signatures must be filed on time, too.
“The primary petition deadline is August 7 at 4 p.m., filed with the registrar of voters, not us,” Harris said Thursday. ”These deadlines are hard deadlines that are spelled out specifically in the state law. The local election administrators have zero discretion under the state law to grant any exceptions that are written into the state law. If they even arrive at 4:01 p.m., under the law, they’re not allowed to accept it. It’s all spelled out by state statute. Some people make the mistake that if it’s postmarked, it’s good enough. The answer is no.’’