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.
Pelto congratulated Visconti, a conservative Republican who collected more than 10,000 signatures and always expressed confidence that he would get the necessary minimum of 7,500 verified signatures of registered voters.
Visconti is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and he collected signatures outside a gun store from voters who share his views about gun rights. Pelto, by contrast, went to Bushnell Park in Hartford at lunchtime to get signatures from state employees, as well as asking voters for signatures at events where nationally known consumer advocate Ralph Nader was speaking.
“The gun issue moved more people than the teacher issue,” Pelto said. “It didn’t translate into the same kind of petitioning effort.”
Pelto is viewed as a pariah in some political circles, and his effort was strongly opposed by supporters of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
In Bushnell Park, some state employees who talked to Pelto refused to give their names to Capitol Watch and others asked that their names not be published.