In narrow vote, Democrats endorse Statchen over Kelley for 18th District state Senate run

Democrats on Monday voted 25-21 Monday to endorse Bob Statchen of Stonington to be their candidate for the 18th District state Senate seat and run against incumbent Republican Heather Somers.

"I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the convention," Statchen said. "This will be a difficult campaign and I will work hard to earn the trust and confidence the convention has placed in me."

Conrad Heede, the chairman of the Groton Democratic Town Committee, nominated Statchen, calling him an "exceptionally qualified" candidate.

"When your next senator walks onto the floor for the first time, I believe he will instantly be recognized as a leader, capable of representing our district, region and state with honor and distinction," Heede said.

Statchen, who is married with three children, for the past 10 years has directed the Small Business Clinic at Western New England University School of Law, where students assist small businesses with various types of legal issues. Before WNEU, he worked as an attorney and taught in the law department of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He has been a member of the CT Air National Guard for the past 21 years and worked in the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s office.

Statchen narrowly defeated Dan Kelley of Pawcatuck, who announced Tuesday that he will primary Statchen in August. As he collected the required 15 percent of the convention vote, Kelley was eligible to force a primary vote without having to collect the required signatures.

"Overcoming challenges is something that has been ingrained in me since I grew up right here in this district," Kelley said. "My family had to fight for everything we had, and we learned that anything worth having needed to be worked for. I am more than happy to take my message to the people of this district and show them why I am the right choice to represent them in Hartford."

Karla Desjardins, the chairwoman of the Plainfield Democratic Town Committee, nominated Kelley at the convention, saying, "Over the past 10 months I have seen Dan attend events throughout the district, speak to small groups, speak to voters one on one, work elections by stuffing envelopes, make phone calls and stand on sidewalks with signs. Dan has a connection with people and an understanding of the issues that impact this district on a day-to-day basis. He also possesses a keen awareness and thorough understanding of how Hartford is failing to represent us."

The 18th District covers Groton, Stonington, North Stonington, Preston, Griswold, Voluntown, Sterling and Plainfield.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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