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Anderson defeats Gilmer in Republican primary for 2nd District

Justin Anderson has defeated Tom Gilmer to become the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, winning by a narrow 81-vote margin after a recount.

Anderson received 9,483 votes to Gilmer’s 9,402, the secretary of the state’s website showed at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, with 100% of precincts reporting.

The results capped off a race upended by Gilmer’s arrest on felony charges less than 24 hours before the polls opened on primary day, and questions about whether leaders in the state Republican party could have done a better job of vetting Gilmer, who overwhelmingly received the party’s endorsement in May.

“This is a very important moment,” Anderson said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “I see the party infighting and finger pointing and that’s not where we need to be. ... We had one bad actor. He caused all this and right now we have to look forward and go after Joe Courtney as a unified party.”

Gilmer’s arrest, which came after Anderson turned over to Wethersfield police a video allegedly depicting an altercation between Gilmer and a former girlfriend in 2017, happened after many people already had voted by absentee ballot, given the coronavirus pandemic. Gilmer's arrest and subsequent announcement that he was withdrawing from the race came too late to remove his name from the ballot.

Statewide, 75% of those who voted during this year’s primary election cast an absentee ballot, according to the secretary of the state’s website. 

Anderson also faced criticism from the Republican Party for waiting months before giving police the video, which he received from the victim, depicting the altercation.

The video, which was taken from a security camera inside a home in Wethersfield and lasts 30 seconds, starts with Gilmer punching the victim in the face and jumping on top of her as she falls to the ground, Gilmer's arrest report says. He then attempts to choke the victim followed by multiple closed-fist punches to her face, the arrest report says, and later places her in a chokehold and subdues her arms and legs. The assault occurred on May 20, 2017.

"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," police wrote in the report.

Anderson informed Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano about the video before the nominating convention on May 11. Romano advised him to turn over the video to police. Many officials in the state Republican Party have said they were not aware of the video or allegations against Gilmer. 

An attorney representing Gilmer had sent a cease and desist order to Anderson in May, seeking to stop him from making "defamatory" statements about Gilmer and from disseminating the video.

Anderson now will face off against U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat, in November. Courtney defeated then-incumbent Rob Simmons, a Republican, by 83 votes during the 2006 election, a seat he's held since.

Gilmer, 29, is a commercial roofer, and Anderson, 49, a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut National Guard.

j.bergman@theday.com

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