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Stefanowski got Independent line, but will it matter?

August 28, 2018

In his appeal to the Independent Party voters, Bob Stefanowski argued the party’s decision not to cross-endorse Republican Tom Foley in 2010 was the reason Foley lost to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“Foley lost by less than 10,000 votes,” Stefanowski told the 64 Independent voters who gathered to endorse a candidate Sunday. “This party has over 25,000 votes. You could potentially determine this election.”

Stefanowski got the party’s endorsement, beating out four other contenders including Oz Griebel who is trying to petition onto the general election ballot, but it’s unclear how much the minor party win matters.

Tom Marsh, the Republican-turned-Independent who Stefanowski implied stole Foley’s votes that year said he believes that blaming the Independent candidate is just an excuse for the Republican party to explain its loss.

“I don’t believe you can just take the assumption that because somebody had been a Republican they only stole Republican votes,” Marsh said Monday from his office in Windsor, Vermont, where he now works as the town manager.

“Having conversations with both the Foley and Malloy camps at the time, it seemed apparent to both sides I was taking votes from bothm,” he said. “You’re also assuming the people who voted for me definitely would have voted for Foley and I don’t think that’s true.”

Malloy, who had the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, defeated Foley by about 7,400 votes in 2010. Marsh pulled in 17,629 on the Independent line.

So, Stefanowski argued Sunday, had Foley’s name appeared on that line instead of Marsh — and assuming those voters would have chosen the candidate on the Independent line regardless — Foley would have won the election by roughly 10,000 votes. Of course, in 2014 the Independent Party did cross-endorse Foley only to achieve the same outcome.

Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said the state has a history of electing third party candidates. Lowell Weicker was elected governor on the ticket of A Connecticut Party,and Joe Lieberman won re-election to the U.S. Senate on the Lieberman for Connecticut ticket after losing the Democratic nomination to Ned Lamont in 2006. And at least two members of the current state legislature were third-party candidates in special elections.

Marsh still owns his house in Chester, Connecticut, where he served three terms as first selectman. He’s had trouble selling it, he said. Besides, his children and grandchildren still live here. As a result, he still pays close attention to the politics of the state he once tried to lead.

“I think the Independent Party really did itself a disservice by not endorsing Oz (Griebel),” Marsh said. “He has a lot of bipartisan support and I think that’s an opportunity lost to have a real third-party candidate.”

kkrasselt@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2563; @kaitlynkrasselt

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