Urban, with no opponent, will return most of state election grant

Incumbent State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, said this afternoon that she will be returning much of the $32,185 Citizens Election Program grant she received from the state because she now officially does not have an opponent.

Even though Republican William Cutler of Mystic announced last month that he was dropping out of the race, Republicans had until Tuesday to name a replacement candidate to run for the 43rd District seat, representing Stonington and North Stonington, which Urban has held for six terms.

Urban said it would have been difficult logistically to return the money when Cutler dropped out and then to reapply for it if a new candidate were named. Now that she will not have a Republican opponent, she said, she will return all but $10,000 of the grant.

Of the $10,000 she will keep, she raised $5,000 in small private donations to qualify for the grant. She said she will use the money to pay for one campaign mailing and for information she passes out when going door to door.

State law requires candidates to return any money that is not spent from the grant. Funding for the program comes from the state’s abandoned property account.

“I don’t want people to get the wrong image of this program. I don’t want people to think I’m out spending money on parties, pens and candy when I don’t have an opponent,” Urban said.

She called the state’s public financing of candidates “a great program.”

“It’s the only way to clean up campaigns and create a level playing field for candidates,” she said.

When Urban was a freshman Republican state representative, she said, fellow GOP legislators pressured her to oppose the bill that led to the creation of the Citizens Election Program when it reached her committee. But she voted in favor of it even though then-governor John Rowland said no Republicans should support the bill.

Urban later became a Democrat.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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