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Recount likely in Republican primary race for 2nd Congressional District

The Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District, which was beset by chaos at the eleventh hour after endorsed candidate Thomas Gilmer’s arrest on domestic violence charges the night before the election, appears to be headed for a recount.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, the secretary of the state’s website showed Justin Anderson, a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut National Guard, was leading Gilmer, a commercial roofer, by five votes with 95% of precincts reporting results.

Per an executive order issued Monday by Gov. Ned Lamont, all absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday and received by towns by Thursday will be counted. The Secretary of the State’s Office is not expecting a large influx of absentee ballots to come in after the primary election, spokesman Gabe Rosenberg said, but in such a close race, they could still have an impact.

A recount is triggered during a primary election when the difference in the number of votes received by the two highest vote-getters is either less than 0.5% of the total number of votes cast for the office but no more than 1,000 votes, or less than 20.

However, if the defeated candidate files a written statement waiving that right with the Secretary of the State’s Office, a recount is not held.

Gilmer said Tuesday after his brief appearance in New Britain court that he intended to formally withdraw from the race, which requires written notification to the secretary of the state at least 24 days before the general election. He has yet to do so.

A Wednesday afternoon request for comment on when Gilmer intends to submit formal notice of withdrawal was made to his attorney, Richard Brown, who said he would relay the message. As of publication time, Gilmer had not responded.

If Gilmer were to formally withdraw from the race but still win the primary, the state Republican Party could replace him up to 21 days before the general election. If he doesn't formally withdraw and he wins the primary, he still will be on the ballot in November.

Gilmer’s arrest, which is connected to a 2017 altercation with a former girlfriend, happened too close to the primary election for his name to be removed from the ballot.

Wethersfield police arrested Gilmer, whom the state Republican Party had endorsed by 234 votes to Anderson's 50, Monday night and charged him with second-degree strangulation and first-degree unlawful restraint.

The allegations against Gilmer had been known for months among members of the state GOP, including its chairman, JR Romano, who was informed by Anderson that there was a video of the altercation.

The altercation, which happened on May 20, 2017, is detailed in an arrest report written by Wethersfield police Officer Zachary Gonzalez, who watched the video.

In it, Gilmer is seen attacking the victim, including attempts to choke her followed by multiple closed-fist punches to her face, according to the arrest report.

"Gilmer was restraining the victim against her will and could've caused serious physical injury to the victim, if not killed the victim from (the) chokehold," Gonzalez wrote in the report.

j.bergman@theday.com

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