A dispute over the use of proxy votes has resulted in a change in the Democratic party's endorsed candidate for the 58th House District.
At the , challenger David Alexander edged seven-term incumbent Kathy Tallarita 21-20 to win the party's endorsement.
Two days after the convention, Tallarita filed a complaint with the Democratic State Central Committee office regarding the use of proxies. A three-member panel met Tuesday night to examine the issue, and reached an oral decision to disallow the proxy votes.
Alexander had five proxy votes at the convention, while Tallarita had one. One of the proxy votes supporting Alexander had been thrown out because the voter is registered as unaffiliated, Alexander said.
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With the proxy votes disallowed, Tallarita gained a 19-17 victory, and is now the official endorsed candidate for the seat.
Alexander said the proxy votes had been approved by Democratic State Central Committee members prior to the convention, including confirmation from Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Dinardo and Democratic Legal Counsel Kevin Reynolds. He also claimed both campaigns were informed of that decision ahead of time.
"No one made any complaint about the use of proxies before, during or immediately after the convention," he said in an email to Enfield Patch Wednesday.
Tallarita said since District 58 is a single-town district, an official convention is not held. Instead, she said the vote was taken at a special meeting of the Enfield Democratic Town Committee, and proxies are not allowed at Town Committee meetings.
"I am very pleased with the outcome of the hearing with the State Democrat Party and that the issue has been resolved," Tallarita emailed Enfield Patch Thursday. "I feel the process was fair and open, allowing both sides to discuss what transpired up to and during the special meeting of the Town Committee. I believed throughout the entire process what I knew to be true, and this decision recognizes the proper procedures of the party rules, which are consistent with state law. I am excited to now move forward, get on with the campaign, and discuss the issues important to my constituents."
Despite the reversal of the endorsement, Alexander said he is planning to collect enough signatures by June 13 to force a primary in August.
"I feel bad for the Enfield Democratic Town Committee because their endorsement was overturned by a technicality," he wrote. "I feel that the Enfield Democrats got railroaded by leaders in Hartford. I feel especially bad for those delegates who used a proxy and now were disenfranchised, to include the one proxy for Kathy as well. It does not make sense that State Central would overturn an agreed-upon decision like this. But at this same time, this decision galvanizes and motivates me. At this point, I feel it's time to let the voters decide who should represent them at the Capitol, and that's why I am running. I feel bad that the Enfield Democrats had their endorsement overturned, but I feel that now it's time to explain to the voters that it's time for a change."
Enfield Patch requested a copy of the official ruling via email to Jonathan Harris, executive director of the Connecticut Democrats and a member of the panel that decided the matter. Harris replied, "The written opinion by counsel to the State Democratic Party has yet to be completed."