Democratic Committee Votes To Change Law On Ballot-Line Position After Losing Unanimously At State Supreme Court

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Democrats, Denise Merrill, Gov. Dannel Malloy Date:

For months last year, state Republicans fought hard to gain the top spot on the election ballot in an expensive legal struggle.

The Connecticut Supreme Court finally ruled in their favor in a unanimous decision and placed Republicans on the top line for last November\’s election.

Now, having lost in court, the Democrats who control the legislature voted Wednesday, on a party line vote at the committee level, to change the law back to their original interpretation. Republicans were outraged.


“First, the Democrats ignored the law. Then when they got caught, they fought the law,\’\’ House Republican leader Larry Cafero said in a statement. \”Now, having lost 7-0 in the State Supreme Court, they want to change the law. They dismissed our arguments as frivolous, and now they want to alter the system we have lived by for years because they can. It is total arrogance.’’

The state\’s highest court said the state\’s top elections official, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, had been wrong to rule that the Democrats belonged on the top line after the election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010. That came under the state\’s complicated election law.

Malloy won the governor\’s race, but he did it with votes on both the Democratic and Working Families ballot lines in the state\’s closest gubernatorial contest in more than 50 years. Republican Tom Foley won more votes on the Republican line than Malloy did on the Democratic line — prompting the court to rule that Republicans should have the top ballot line through the next gubernatorial election in 2014.

The Democratic bill would allow the party of the overall winner – Malloy – to be the top line on the ballot.

The immediate result last year was that Republicans Mitt Romney, Linda McMahon,  Andrew Roraback and all GOP legislative candidates were on the top line for their races on Nov. 6. Despite their top line, all of those on the statewide and regional level – Romney, McMahon, Roraback and four other Congressional candidates across the state – lost.

Sen. Ed Meyer, a Democrat who serves as the vice chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, said the committee was attempting to make sure that Connecticut law is the same as New York\’s law.

In 1994, Republican George Pataki was elected governor in New York by defeating incumbent Democrat Mario Cuomo. But Pataki won only after the votes of the Republican and Conservative Party lines were added together. As a Democrat, Cuomo captured more votes on his line than Pataki did on the Republican line, but the Democrats kept the top line on the ballot for the next four years.

Regarding Cafero\’s viewpoint, Meyer said, \”I don\’t blame him for it. That\’s exactly what he should be arguing. I\’m not going to be critical of Representative Cafero for that argument.\’\’

He added, \”I\’m fully prepared that if Tom Foley wins for governor next year, with the help of the Independent Party, the Republicans should be on Row A.\’\’

On Wednesday, Cafero said, \”This is yet another example of the downsides of one-party rule in Connecticut. When the rules are not to your liking, regardless of precedence or procedure, the Democrats can simply change them.\’\’

Proloy K. Das, a Hartford attorney who argued the case for the Republicans, said at the time of the court ruling that: \”We thought we belonged on top as a matter of law.\’\’

While both Republicans and Democrats had said it was unclear how the top line would affect the results, both major political parties were jockeying for any possible advantage in the elections.

Democrats harshly criticized the Republicans for filing the civil lawsuit, saying it was frivolous. Malloy ripped the lawsuit during a conference call from China with reporters last year, saying: \”For a party that complains about the use of courts, the Republicans in our state have decided to utilize it as much as possible.\”

Former Chief State\’s Attorney Austin McGuigan, representing the state Republican Party, rejected Democrats\’ complaints that the Republicans were wasting the court\’s time.

\”I will say,\’\’ McGuigan said at the time, \”for a frivolous argument, we did OK.\’\’

The court\’s brief order was as follows:

\”The court responds to the reserved questions and the jurisdictional questions on which it ordered supplemental briefs as follows:

(1) Did the plaintiff, the Republican Party of Connecticut, have an available administrative remedy in the present case? Yes.

(2) If so, did the plaintiff exhaust the administrative remedy? Yes.

(3) Is the complaint barred by sovereign immunity? No.

(4) Does General Statutes § 9-249a require that the Republican Party\’s candidates for office be placed on the first line of the ballots for the November 6, 2012 election? Yes.\’\’

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12 thoughts on “Democratic Committee Votes To Change Law On Ballot-Line Position After Losing Unanimously At State Supreme Court

  1. Johanna Galt

    This is the kind of BS we have to put up with in this state! For crying out loud people, we have a freaking budget to deal with and you are wasting your time on this petty garbage???? Arrrghhh!!!

  2. Richard

    Am I alone in hating these dimwits? All of them.

    I’m ashamed to admit we pay them and let them engage in this childishness.

    1. Jeb Capoblabbo - Lord of the Universe and Conservatives

      Richard, my son, hate is an emotion that destroys the soul. Take care of your soul so I won’t need to send my legions of armed bunny rabbits to arrest you before Easter.

  3. Curious Republican

    Chris- What are the Democrats proposing specifically to change? I have not followed this issue closely other than knowing the GOP won in court.


  4. Jen

    If I am reading this right…the Dems still will not be able to be on the top line for 2014…judges orders…lol

  5. Gordon Hunting

    I think as we all saw from 2012, the top line of the ballot has no real effect. The R’s fought for it, and won it and then lost ALL of their statewide races. In 2010, the R’s had it and…, lost all of their statewide races. Seems the R’s should focus on not nominating RINOs more than fighting over who is on top of the ballot. Now that we have electronic machines, the short and the tall have the same viewing of the ballot. Time wasted worrying about…, NOTHING!

  6. jschmidt

    The Dems leadership is just scum. They change rules to serve themselves. We need to get rid of them.

  7. Pat

    Typical. Any sort of distraction so the spineless “leaders” can avoid working on the real problems. No doubt they’ve deluded themselves into believing this is really important work. Blithering idiots.

  8. We are Doomed

    Meanwhile, Rome burns and Danny boy is playing the fiddle. Who in the hell in Hartford is worried about the state budget besides us taxpayers?

    1. Jeb Capoblabbo - Lord of the Universe and Conservatives

      Rome is not burning and Danny can’t fiddle.

      But he does sing in the rain.

  9. Richard Winger

    Someone is very confused. Connecticut law is exactly the way New York law is right now. Even the reporter who wrote this story seems confused. The story should say, in 1994, Democrat Cuomo got more votes on the Democratic line in New York than Republican Pataki got on the Republican line, AND THEREFORE the Democrats kept the top line in New York. The article says, “BUT” instead of “AND THEREFORE”, which tricks the reader into thinking current Connecticut law is somehow different than current New York law. It is the current Connecticut bill that would switch Connecticut to a different system than New York.

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