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A Connecticut presidential primary that might never be

Connecticut’s presidential primary is off until June 2 — and maybe until 2024.

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday used his powers under the public-health emergency to postpone April 28 presidential primary due to the coronavirus pandemic. The question now is whether the Democratic presidential nomination still will be contested by then.

“This obviously gives us more time to sort out the ballot,” said Denise Merrill, the secretary of the state. “Of course, everyone is speculating about Bernie Sanders.”

Sanders suspended advertising after a bruising round of primary losses to Joe Biden, but he has yet to formally withdraw from the race.

On the Republican side, President Donald J. Trump was assured of the GOP nomination, even before former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld suspended his campaign. But there is one other candidate on the Connecticut ballot: Rocky De La Fuente.

If there is no Democratic primary, could Connecticut prevail on De La Fuente to quit?

“We’re working on it,” she said. “Actually, J.R. is working on it.”

J.R. Romano, the Republican state chair, is trying to reach De La Fuente and ask him to abandon a vanity campaign.

Under Connecticut law, any candidate who has qualified for the ballot stays there until notifying the secretary of the state in writing that they are withdrawing. With the postponement, the deadline for withdrawal now is in May, 25 days before June 2.

The state of emergency, however, gives the governor wide latitude in waiving various requirements set by law or regulation.

Tom Perez, the Democratic national chair, urged states to hew to the original schedule and think about conducting their primaries by mail. But Connecticut has no such option, not even during a public emergency.

Connecticut’s rules for the use of absentee ballots are set in the constitution.

“We’re really hamstrung in Connecticut,” Merrill said. “We are literally the restrictive state [on alternative voting] in the country, and we are unable to change that.”

Mark Pazniokas is a reporter for The Connecticut Mirror (www.ctmirror.org). Copyright 2020 © The Connecticut Mirror.

mpazniokas@ctmirror.org

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