Strong interest expected in state races
The expected matchup of Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele, of Stamford, and Greenwich businessman Tom Foley in Connecticut's late summer primary is already causing a buzz among party voters who should turn out in droves, said Chris Munger, chairman of the Stamford Republican Town Committee.
"With the number of races expected, we think it is going to be very interesting," Munger said.
Despite concerns about family vacations and possible ignorance keeping turnout down, strong feelings about the governor's race and a primary showdown among former professional wrestling executive and Greenwich resident Linda McMahon, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Westport economist Peter Schiff will keep Republicans interested.
"I think it will be a heavy, heavy turnout because we have a really good opportunity to take back this Senate seat," Munger said. "It's a great year in Connecticut, and we're going to put a lot of emphasis on it."
The hotly contested Republican battle could also push Democratic voters to their own polls for the gubernatorial primary pitting Greenwich millionaire Ned Lamont and his running mate, Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, against former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy and State Comptroller Nancy Wyman, the endorsed ticket for governor and lieutenant governor.
Candidates and campaign staff said plenty of competition for statewide offices this year should provide sizzle to the Aug. 10 primary, and they dismissed concerns the races will be ignored because of vacations and other commitments.
Fedele, who garnered 427 delegate votes to Foley's 710, said the McMahon-Simmons contest and a potential three-way primary for governor will keep candidates in the public eye.
"I think with all the primaries, there is going to be some draw for the Senate race, and it will be a good turnout," Fedele said. "We've also been identifying our voters and are going to make sure we get them out."
Justine Sessions, a spokeswoman for Lamont, said his campaign plans to step up door-to-door, phone and public outreach with the aim of registering unaffiliated voters to vote in the August primary.
"Ned will be getting back out there this week and talking to voters, and his message is resonating with them," Sessions said. "I think in the next couple of weeks, you'll see our organizational strength will be used to get the voters out."
In August 2006, a statewide Democratic primary between Lamont and incumbent U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., drew unusually large numbers, with Lamont defeating Lieberman. After losing the primary, Lieberman was re-elected while running as an independent.
Foley said Republicans are especially motivated this year to vote because of concerns about state and federal government spending, taxes and the economy.
"I think Republicans are energized because of the issues out there," Foley said. "They want to rein in the size of state and federal government and are worried about the direction the country is headed in."
"There is a lot of interest in the candidates who are running," Camhi said. "I think everybody on Malloy's team is upbeat and think he will pull this off."
Connecticut's August primaries began in 2004 after a state Supreme Court decision the year before ruled that the state's old primary law was unconstitutional.
The decision moved primaries from September to August and provided for candidates to be able to petition their way onto the ballot without receiving 15 percent of delegate votes at a convention.
Eric Wilson, a Stamford resident, said he would most likely vote, but he said that holding the primaries in the less active month of August was questionable because of the number of families that spend the month on vacation.
"It doesn't seem like such a great idea," Wilson said. "It sounds like it could play out along demographic lines somewhat and work against certain types of voters."
Elaine O'Connor, a Democrat who lives in Brookfield, said her family was considering taking a trip during the week of the primaries.
"I'm usually pretty good about voting in the local and federal elections," she said. "But having it in August would seem to be difficult, though people can always get an absentee ballot."