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Rogers beats McFee in primary race to run for Republican registrar

Montville — Republicans picked Jeff Rogers as their chosen candidate for November's election by a vote of 387 to 246 over current registrar Dana McFee.

Rogers, a retired state trooper and former Republican town councilman, challenged McFee, who has been registrar for the past five years, in this year’s primary election.

Rogers commented on his victory Tuesday night. “I am humbled that the Republican Town Committee endorsed me and that the Republican voters of Montville supported the town committee's decision by electing me as the registrar candidate for the November ballot,” he said. “I promise to serve all of Montville’s residents honestly, faithfully, but most importantly equally.”

McFee was not available for comment Tuesday night.

The race was unusually contentious as Rogers, who was endorsed by the local Republican Town Committee, claimed he would do more to help the local party, saying McFee does “the bare minimum at his job.” McFee and others have said Rogers is too partisan a political figure to be a registrar, a position that demands impartial arbitration of elections. 

During the campaign, Rogers answered whether he viewed the role of registrar as a way to help the Republican Party. “Absolutely. Absolutely,” he said, adding, “The most important part is getting people registered to vote.”

In a letter to the editor published in The Day, Republican Town Committee Chairman Thomas McNally explained why the party supported Rogers in his bid to win the registrar position from McFee.

“Party chairmen, be they Democrat or Republican, rely on their party’s registrar to provide information and reports with regard to new voter registrations, voter trends, changes in voter affiliations, demographics, etc.,” McNally wrote. “Unfortunately, Mr. McFee has not provided the information requested. In fact, he deems it unnecessary and believes reciting numbers from a tiny piece of paper is sufficient.”

McFee and Rogers also engaged in personal sparring during the run-up to the election. They have attacked each other on Facebook, within The Day’s letter to the editor pages and during separate interviews with The Day.

As McFee said: “Me and Jeff Rogers don’t like each other.”

And Rogers said of McFee, “The day-to-day job gets done, but his responsibilities to the party is where he has come up short.”

McFee called Rogers a “dirty cop” for an incident from 2011, when a judge in New London Superior Court put Rogers on a special form of probation that wiped his criminal record clean after he was charged with third-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor following a traffic stop in which he punched a 15-year-old who had been riding a motor bike on a roadway. Rogers brought up a much-publicized event in which McFee stole a political yard sign in 2014 and later turned himself in to the state police on an arrest warrant for sixth-degree larceny.

Following his victory Tuesday, Rogers said he hopes to shake McFee’s hand, and that he thinks town Republicans should work together in the future rather than “mudsling.”

s.spinella@theday.com 

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