Category Archives: Jonathan Pelto

Pelto Surprised How Hard It Was To Collect Signatures For Ballot

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Joe Visconti, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto is surprised how hard it was to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot for governor.

In a recent interview, Pelto said he feared that he had not gathered a sufficient number of verified signatures and added that he had collected at least 900 signatures from citizens who were disqualified because they are not registered to vote.

“This whole experience has been an eye-opener, and it’s definitely rigged to make it as difficult as possible,” Pelto told Capitol Watch.

He says his effort was hurt during the summer season as students, professors and administrators were all away from the University of Connecticut and other college campuses. The signatures needed to be collected by August 6 – meaning that June, July and early August were the prime time for finding registered voters willing to sign the petition.

“I probably could have done it if it was schools and colleges, but they were all on break,” Pelto said.

The Secretary of the State’s office is still counting the signatures, and a final decision might not be made until Friday on whether Pelto can appear on the ballot against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Republican Tom Foley and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti.

Continue reading

Pelto Fears He Will Not Reach 7,500 Signatures To Get On Ballot

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

In a potential political boost for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto told The Hartford Courant on Saturday that he fears he will not reach the necessary threshold to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot in November.

Pelto has threatened to go to court to gain a place on the gubernatorial ballot against Malloy, Republican Tom Foley, and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti, but Pelto said in an interview that a potential court fight on disputed signatures might be fruitless if he is not close enough to the threshold.

“It’s not looking good,” Pelto said Saturday. “I am increasingly concerned the situation is starting to look grim. It is clear that we submitted far fewer petitions than I had expected. … I may be wrong. But for the first time, I think we may fall short.”

Pelto needs 7,500 verified signatures of registered voters, but he said the verification process so far has shown that he and his supporters collected about 900 signatures of citizens who were not registered to vote. He said he was surprised that so many people would sign a petition without being registered voters.

Despite his concerns, Pelto noted that the Secretary of the State – Connecticut’s chief elections official – will continue counting the signatures in the coming days.

“I don’t want to declare that it’s done,” Pelto said. “I don’t want to jump the gun. But I am increasingly pessimistic that we did not collect a sufficient number of signatures. It’s up to the Secretary of the State’s office. I’m not throwing in the towel.”

Av Harris, the chief spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, was not available for comment Saturday.

Pelto congratulated Visconti, saying that the former West Hartford town council member had made “brilliant” moves by collecting signatures outside a gun shop and also traveling to towns that had a budget referendum to collect signatures from registered voters as they left the polling places. Those voters were guaranteed to be registered because they had just been verified inside the polling place.

“The real problem is we didn’t get enough signatures to have the buffer,” Pelto said. “I had planned about 10 percent [being rejected as] being nonvoters, but I think it was 20 percent. It becomes a moot point if you don’t come close enough.”

Rather than standing outside polling places, Pelto and his supporters collected signatures at farmers’ markets and concerts on the green – where some of the signers were not registered to vote.

If Pelto fails to gain a spot on the ballot, it will be a major political boost for Malloy. Many political insiders believe that Pelto would have pulled Democratic votes away from Malloy, including public school teachers and some state employees. Pelto had been compared to nationally known consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who was blamed by some Democrats for pulling votes away from then-Vice President Al Gore and throwing the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush. But Nader rejected that reasoning and he recently signed Pelto’s petition when the two saw each other at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

“I’m sure there will be lots of cheering in the Malloy camp and with union leaders because, conservatively, I think I would have been taking 50,000 to 100,000 votes,” Pelto said. “To some extent, it will hurt Foley with Visconti on the ballot – a couple of percentage points, for sure.”

Pelto, a former state legislator and longtime Democratic political strategist, said he believes that “while my name recognition was only 5 percent, my vote was closer to 10 percent.”

Besides collecting signatures of nonvoters, Pelto said there were about 200 signatures “that were inappropriately or illegally rejected” by town officials across the state. Those included people who failed to provide their date of birth on the form, which is not required by law. Still, some confused local officials rejected signatures without birthdates.

One of those who did not provide her date of birth on the form was Nader’s older sister, Claire, but Pelto said her signature was accepted by local officials.

Continue reading

Visconti Officially Qualifies for the November Ballot

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Joe Visconti, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti has qualified for the November ballot.

visconti pic

Visconti, a former member of the West Hartford town council, was notified by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill this afternoon.

Visconti started out as a Republican but petitioned his way onto the ballot by collecting 7,500 signatures.

No word yet on whether former state legislator Jonathan Pelto, another petitioning candidate, has qualified.



A Battle is Brewing for Independent Party Nomination

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Jonathan Pelto, Tom Foley Date:

A potentially bitter battle is brewing for the right to run for governor on the Independent Party line.

Republican nominee Tom Foley and Trinity professor John Mertens, a newcomer to the race, are likely to seek the party’s endorsement, said Mike Telesca of Waterbury, chairman of one the factions of the Independent Party. The nominee will be decided Tuesday night at a caucus in Watertown.

“I’m not sure who is going to win the caucus,” Telesca said. “I just want to make sure there’s a fair process.”


The backing of the third party is important to Foley because having his name on a second line on the November ballot could strengthen his position against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, whose own name will appear twice, under the Democratic and Working Families lines.

A cross-endorsement from the Independent Party could also give Foley a boost among unaffiliated voters and some Democrats, who may feel more comfortable voting for him on the Independent line than the Republican one.


Mertens ran for U.S. Senate in 2010 on the Connecticut for Lieberman line. He is a member of the Independent Party and he has tapped another party official as his running mate.

Continue reading

Exclusive: Pelto Not Happy With DeLauro Comments On Getting Out of Race

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Plenty of Democrats are upset that former state legislator Jonathan Pelto is seeking a spot on the gubernatorial ballot to challenge Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

But few have gone as far as U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who says flatlly that Pelto should get out of the race.

“He should not be running for governor,” DeLauro, 71, told Capitol Watch earlier this week. “Jonathan Pelto is a very smart young man. We’ve worked together over many years. But this is not his moment.”

Pelto was taken aback upon reading those remarks.

“Of all of the things that happened so far, that one is a little odd,” Pelto told Capitol Watch. “I thought Rosa’s comment was the most offensive so far in this campaign, considering I started working with her in 1990 – 34 years ago ago. I went to her house and helped out. My feeling is if you want to endorse Malloy, go ahead and help Malloy.”

Pelto added, “She said I was a nice young man. I take it as a compliment. I am 53 years old. Of all of the things that happened so far, I find Rosa’s comments the most insulting yet.’’ Continue reading

Polling Woes: Foley’s Way Ahead of Malloy, Or Maybe Not

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Connecticut, Democrats, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Jonathan Pelto, Republicans, Tom Foley Tagged: , , Date:

If anyone needed any more evidence about how cautious you have to be of political polling these days, all they have to do is look at the results of two very different opinion surveys released in the last few days.

On Tuesday, a new-style, online type of poll on Connecticut’s gubernatorial race came out with the somewhat startling results that Republican Tom Foley was leading Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy by nine percentage points.  One reason it got so much play – despite all the questions about how it was done – was because it was commissioned by the New York Times and CBS.

Democrat Dannel Malloy

Democrat Dannel Malloy

On Thursday, a slightly more traditional opinion survey was released, this time by a GOP-leaning group called Vox Populi Polling. It found Malloy was ahead of Foley by a single percentage point. A third-party candidate, Jonathan Pelto, came in with three percent support among those polled. With the margin of error involved, the only conclusion you could have is that the race is too close to call.

Republican Tom Foley

Republican Tom Foley

So, which one are we supposed to  believe? The NYT-CBS sponsored survey that used rather questionable online methods? Or the Vox Populi Polling results that also involved some methods (such as automated “robo-calls” to presumed voters) that traditional pollsters question?

Maybe the answer is to be very wary of both.

Continue reading

Dodd Likes Pelto, But Supports Malloy In Tight Race For Governor This Fall

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Dodd, Congress, Connecticut, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd goes way back with fellow eastern Connecticut Democrat Jonathan Pelto.

When asked if he has known Pelto for about 30 years, Dodd responds, “Actually longer than that.”

The relationship goes all the way back to the mid-1970s before Dodd became a prominent member of the U.S. Senate and a national political figure as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Bill Clinton.

“Jonathan was about 12 or 13 years old when I was a freshman member of the House when I received a paper from a young man in Storrs, Connecticut on energy policy,” Dodd told Capitol Watch recently in an interview. “I put it in the Congressional Record. The author was Jonathan Pelto.”

Fast forward to 2014 and Pelto is now gathering signatures in an attempt to get on the ballot in the race for governor. Despite his long relationship with Pelto, Dodd says he will be voting for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“I have great admiration for Dan Malloy,” Dodd said. “He’s not a back-slapper. He’s not a glad-hander. I don’t need someone to make me feel good with rhetoric. He’s trying to get our state in a good, strong place. I’d rather have a leader like than than someone who makes me feel good. I like Jonathan, but I’m a Dan Malloy guy.”

Pelto Works the Starbucks Circuit

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Jonathan Pelto, the liberal Democrat who is running for governor with the Education and Democracy Party (which he created), is barnstorming parts of the state this week in an effort to collect the signatures he needs to earn a place on the November ballot.

Pelto, who calls himself a “Starbucks addict,” to the Courant’s Matthew Clarida that he plans to hit several of the Seattle chain’s Connecticut outlets. He’s also planning to stop at Bean and Leaf, an independent coffeeshop in New London.

Pelto said that he thinks he has the 7,500 signatures already and is working on getting about 2,000 more for a “buffer” in case signatures are thrown out by the secretary of the state.

The list of Pelto’s potential stops is after the jump.

Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s UConn Speech Continues to Draw Criticism

by Categorized: Jonathan Pelto, Tom Foley, UConn Date:

Hillary Clinton’s April speech at the University of Connecticut is continuing to spark controversy, with two candidates for governor slamming the school for paying the former senator and secretary of state more than $250,000 for the 30-minute talk.

UConn officials say Clinton’s visit was hosted not by the university but by University of Connecticut Foundation, a private group. The program was funded by a grant from the Fusco family of New Haven, which underwrites speeches by scholars, authors and policymakers.

The UConn foundation, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from private donors for the school in recent years, operates largely in secret: the group is exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information laws.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley and independent candidate Jonathan Pelto both criticized the foundation.

“Misappropriating funds contributed for one purpose to another purpose is a violation of the trust contributors and students should have in the foundation board, the President of UCONN, and the Governor, all of whom have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the foundation’s assets,” Foley said.

“Diverting funds meant to benefit UCONN students to political purposes is a particularly egregious violation of the public trust,” Foley added. “If the foundation was used to launder money so the cost of Hillary’s speech is tax deductible to a sponsor that is an inappropriate use of the foundation, too. When I am governor, contributors to the UCONN Foundation, students, faculty, administrators, and alumni will rest better at night knowing the foundation isn’t being used as a slush-fund and tax-dodge by the governor and his political allies.”

Pelto, a longtime critic of the UConn foundation, said the university’s assertion that no tax dollars were used to fund the Clinton speech is misleading.

“In a long standing deal between the University of Connecticut and its foundation, UConn uses taxpayer and students funds so subsidize the foundation so that it will look more successful,” Pelto said. “This year approximately $9 million will be shifted from UConn’s taxpayer and student-funded Operating Fund to the foundation. To suggest that none of that money helped pay for Hillary Clinton’s fee and visit to UConn is simply wrong.”

“Although Connecticut taxpayers, students and their families are unaware of the deal between UConn and its foundation, more than $86 million in taxpayer and student tuition fees have been given to the UConn Foundation over the past decade. The money has been used to subsidize a variety of activities that shouldn’t utilize public funding such as a 5,000 square-foot house for UConn’s president in West Hartford (even though she has one in Storrs), Governor Malloy’s trip to Davos, Switzerland and China and the $251,000 for Hillary Clinton,” Pelto added.

“It is truly outrageous that UConn and its foundation would then divert scarce resources away from instructional costs to pay $251,000 for a speaker,” he added.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was among the Democratic politicians who attended the Clinton speech. A spokesman did not respond to a request seeking comment.



Lieberman Compares Pelto To Ralph Nader As 3rd Party Candidate

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Former U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman compared liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto to former presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Tuesday while discussing this year’s competitive race for Connecticut governor.

Lieberman said he had not been following the governor’s race very closely, but he spoke about Nader as a third-party challenger for president 14 years ago.

“If I can be probably more direct than I should – you’re looking at someone who was part of a ticket in 2000 that got a half million more votes than the other ticket nationally,” Lieberman told reporters Tuesday at the state Capitol complex. “One of the reasons that was so close in Florida, I believe, was that there was a third-party candidate named Ralph Nader. Arguably, if Ralph had not been in the race, Al Gore and I would have won more clearly in Florida. What I’m saying is third-party candidates can affect the outcome of elections. That’s the point of it.”

“I’ve heard people argue quite convincingly, who seem to be the kind of analysts who know, that the majority of the Nader votes would have gone to Al Gore and me,” Lieberman said. “But who will ever know?”

Lieberman, who served for 24 years in the U.S. Senate, added, “But that’s history. But we had a good time, didn’t we? Until election night, we had a great time in that campaign.”

Some Democrats fear that Pelto, a former state legislator who represented Storrs, could peal off enough Democratic votes from Malloy that a Republican could win the election in a tight race in November. Malloy is currently tied with Greenwich business executive Tom Foley in the latest Quinnipiac University poll at 43 percent each. A race against Foley would be a rematch of the 2010 battle, which Malloy won by 6,400 votes in the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years. Continue reading