Frantz, Camillo win Independent endorsement
GREENWICH — Republicans L. Scott Frantz and Fred Camillo will see their names twice on the November election ballot after receiving the endorsement of The Connecticut Independent Party Wednesday night.
Both won blowout victories at the party’s first caucus in Greenwich, giving them two lines on the November ballot in their reelection campaigns. Frantz, who is seeking reelection to the state senate in the 36th District, outpolled Democratic challenger Alexandra Bergstein by a vote of 20 to nine in the caucus.
Camillo, who is running for reelection as the state representative for the 151st District, also easily won. He defeated Democrat Laura Kostin for the party’s endorsement with 14 votes in his favor to three for Kostin.
All four of the candidates spoke briefly and attempted to put themselves forward as the most independent candidate in their races.
Additionally, Republican Harry Arora received the Connecticut Independent Party’s support as well. The Greenwich resident is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, also a town resident, for the Fourth Congressional District. Neither of the candidates attended the caucus as they were doing a town hall event in Norwalk but Arora’s supporters put his name forward for nomination and he won on a unanimous voice vote.
Himes’ campaign members or supporters did not put his name forward for the vote.
The caucus also offered an endorsement in one Stamford race with Republican Anzelmo Graziosi getting the nod for the 147th state representative district. The Democrats did not offer a challenge in the race.
Only members of the Connecticut Independent Party were allowed to vote at the caucus and the voters had to be registered with the party for more than the last 90 days. Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters were not allowed to vote in the caucus.
The caucus at times seemed chaotic to attendees with questions about organization, eligibility of voters, the amount of time for candidates to speak and how long people had to wait to vote leading to complaints from many members of the more than 50 people in attendance. The group spilled out easily from the small meeting room in the Cos Cob Library and tempers at time flared among those in attendance, with several members of the local political parties attending, including Republican Town Committee Chair Richard DiPreta and Democratic Town Committee Chair Tony Turner.
The caucus came after a court case seemingly put an end to dueling factions within the Connecticut Independent Party over which group truly controlled the party. Under the court ruling, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill can only accept the endorsements of the Waterbury based Independent Party of Connecticut, which is the one Telesca oversees, over those issued by the Danbury wing, which had been issuing endorsements prior to the ruling.
One of those endorsements from Danbury had gone to State Rep. Michael Bocchino, R-150, who is running for reelection against Democrat Stephen Meskers. Bocchino had sought the party’s endorsement while Meskers had not and Bocchino received it last week, the day before the court ruling.
The 150th District was not be considered at Wednesday’s caucus and neither was the 149th District. Incumbent Republican State Rep. Livvy Floren is running unopposed in the 149th.
On Wednesday, Bocchino said he was still hoping to receive the Independent Party’s endorsement and he was waiting for word from the party leadership. He said he would attend the caucus but only to support Frantz and Camillo.
Mike Telesca, chairman of the Connecticut Independent Party, said new endorsements would be issued for candidates who had petitioned for it, which Bocchino did, and that all earlier endorsements by the Danbury wing were considered moot.