Ritter, Formica qualify to apply for public campaign financing for 20th District state Senate race

Two candidates for the 20th District state Senate seat, state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, and East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica, a Republican, have reached the required thresholds to apply for campaign finance grants through the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, according to the candidates’ campaigns.

CEP is a voluntary program that provides public financing to candidates for state office who abide by fundraising guidelines. For Senate candidates, the guidelines include raising at least $15,000 through contributions of between $5 and $100 from at least 300 residents in the candidate’s district.

The 20th District encompasses Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

New London Democratic Town Committee Chairman Bill Satti, who will face Ritter in a primary for the Democratic ticket on Aug. 12, said Tuesday that he was close to meeting the threshold and expected a campaign fundraiser scheduled for that evening to bump him over. Satti, who previously served on the New London City Council, said he planned to apply for a grant within the week. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Ritter and Satti must apply for an initial primary election grant in order to qualify for general election grant funding from CEP later on, according to a flier from the State Elections Enforcement Commission, which administers CEP. Unspent primary grant funding will be deducted from the general campaign grant. Whoever wins the primary will automatically receive a general campaign grant.

The deadline to apply for the primary grant is July 18. The baseline grant for candidates participating in primaries is about $39,000, and for those in districts overwhelmingly dominated by one party, the amount is about $84,000.

Ritter said that to her knowledge, the 20th District still qualifies as overwhelmingly Democratic and so she and Satti would qualify for the higher amount.

Candidates not participating in primary elections have until Sept. 25 to apply for a general election grant, according to the flier. The full grant amounts to about $95,000, but partial grants are also available.

t.townsend@theday.com

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