Carolina: See You In November, Too

Allan Appel PhotoKermit Carolina Thursday joined the field of mayoral candidates securing ballot spots for two separate elections, as he submitted papers to run as an independent in November.

Carolina (pictured with deputy city clerk Sally Brown) is one of five Democrats running for mayor this year to succeed retiring 20-year incumbent John DeStefano. Carolina’s campaign on Wednesday began circulating petitions to obtain 2,406 signatures of registered voters needed to place his name on the Sept. 10 Democratic primary ballot.

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, Carolina visited the city clerk’s office at 200 Orange St. to file papers to take out petitions for a separate race: the Nov. 3 general election. He aims to collect the 155 signatures needed for a spot on that ballot, as well, in case he doesn’t prevail in the Democratic primary. His name would appear on an independent line.

Another Democratic candidate, Justin Elicker, has also done that. He intends to run in both races, as well—ensuring that New Haven is now entering an era in which winning a Democratic primary is no longer tantamount to winning a general election. The last time someone other than a Democrat won a mayor’s election was in 1951. But now the city has 18,377 unaffiliated voters as of the most recent count, and general elections are seen as winnable. The city has 2,540 registered GOP voters, compared to 48,140 registered Democrats.

“In the midst of getting these petitions to run in the Democratic primary, I thought it was a great opportunity to also meet the qualifications for running as an independent in the general election. I don’t anticipate needing it. We have a great opportunity to pull this upset in the Democratic Party, because the voters will have the final say. But just in case, I want to keep my options open,” Carolina said.

Carolina cited the example of a former Democratic U.S. senator who lost a primary and then won a three-way general election as an independent.

“Joe Lieberman opened the door for Democratic candidates to use the option to run an independent when he triumphed over the Democratic-backed candidate Ned Lamont in the 2006 [U.S.] Senate race,” he noted. “He received almost 50 percent of the vote. I want to have that same option.”

Democratic mayoral candidate Toni Harp has said she will not run in the general election if she loses the primary. Candidate Henry Fernandez has left the option open. A fifth candidate, Sundiata Keitazulu, said Wednesday that he may skip the primary and run only in the general—since so many fewer signatures are required to make the ballot.

“If we’re really talking about representing all of New Haven, all of New Haven should be heard,” Carolina said.


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posted by: Curious on July 25, 2013  9:51am

Split that black vote!  Where’s Clifton Graves?  Oh wait he’s with Harp now.

I wonder how Gary Holder-Winfield will feel sitting on the sidelines while Carolina takes it to the hole.

posted by: anonymous on July 25, 2013  9:53am

Hopefully all these general election candidates can help keep the issue of Keno in the headlines through November and beyond, even though only one of them can win.

Can they combine their petition drive with a petition to keep Keno out of New Haven?

It’s going to be an absolute disaster when our corner stores are suddenly turned into neighborhood gambling dens.  Kids won’t be able to avoid it.

Of course, the “crack cocaine of gambling” won’t impact Senator Harp, who voted for Keno but who lives in an isolated 9,700 mansion at the end of a cul-de-sac overlooking the Yale Golf Course, a long way from any corner store.

posted by: Citizen X on July 25, 2013  10:07am

If these guys don’t really consider themselves Democrats, why are they seeking the Democratic nomination?

I was once strongly considering voting for Elicker, but he has a lot of ethical failings. One, he and Carolina don’t seem to care much for the party they claim to be part of.

Two, Elicker said that if he wasn’t running, he’d vote for Carolina. That came after he watched Carolina behave in ridiculous ways at the debates, hurling accusations and resorting to personal attacks. That is on top of the fact that Carolina has not been a successful principal at Hillhouse. There is nothing to indicate that Carolina would be a good mayor and significant evidence that he’d be a disaster.

Three, before the other candidates for the superintendent position were even announced, Elicker propped up the internal candidate who had little experience. This was a ridiculous move on his part. It spoke of cronyism and patronage. Elicker wanted to be in with the cheerleaders. He didn’t have the courage to see who the other candidates were. Elicker also appears to know nothing about education.

Let’s hope that he isn’t the one.

posted by: Stylo on July 25, 2013  10:21am

Ugh, he’ll never win. Just further diluting the election and ensuring a Harp win.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on July 25, 2013  10:26am

And people are still going to bother to vote in the primary!

So I wonder if this helps Harp or hurts Harp come November….

posted by: fmglover on July 25, 2013  11:32am

Great! While obviously this is inefficient (what happens if all the candidates that run in September run again in November? The primary would be nearly irrelevant, at that part) I think it helps to demonstrate how silly New Haven’s current voting system is and could help us move to something better, like run-off voting in party (in this case, Democratic) primaries.

posted by: Burbel on July 25, 2013  12:43pm

It isn’t clear that we are entering an era where winning the Democratic nomination is not tantamount to winning the general.

True, if Carolina or someone or several someones are popular enough to take enough votes from Harp, they could weaken her total enough to allow, say Fernandez or Elicker to get in.

But at the same time, how many Democrats will refuse to back a “Democrat” who then runs as an independent?

If every single Unaffiliated votes and votes for the same individual running as an independent, and only 39% of Democrats turn out and vote for the party endorsed candidate, the endorsed candidate still wins. Those are pretty long odds.

In the case of Harp, the vote pulling operation in the general will be just as valuable as in the primary. Carolina and Elicker have defacto conceded the primary already.

There is no reason to believe that if the same four candidates rematch two months after the primary that the result will be any different.

The only thing that might change it is if they can tear Harp down enough without getting a backlash (not easy to do, especially if there is nothing really new to find out), or if Harp herself self-destructs - or a combination thereof. The primary phase is where that would have to be accomplished.

The primary phase is where that would have to happen. If she wins the primary as decisively as everyone expects then this, unfortunately, appears to be over.

posted by: robn on July 25, 2013  12:50pm

The squawking from the unionistas is ironic. These are the same people who, last aldermanic cycle, tried to get Ward Committee members who voted AGAINST their union candidates, to petition them on the ballot as independents. When asked why the hell would anyone do that their reply was “Don’t you believe in democracy?” These are the same people who then stacked their committees with partisans to guarantee votes and the DTC endorsement for Harp.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 25, 2013  12:51pm

posted by: Wooooster on July 25, 2013 10:07am
If these guys don’t really consider themselves Democrats, why are they seeking the Democratic nomination?

There are a lot of people who do not consider themselves democrat.But do to the fact that the two party system is in control,They are forced to vote for one of the two parties.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 25, 2013  2:49pm

There are 20-25,000 non-democrat registered voters in the city and about 50,000 registered democrats. It is therefore tough to not run as a democrat since you risk not getting your voice out there as you campaign along with the others and you would be absent from the Democratic debates - further alienating yourself. However, there are enough non-Democratic voters in the city that re-running as an Independent also makes sense, allowing you to get a democratic base of support during the campaign, remain relevant during debates, and also capture the vote of the other 30% of the city that is not represented normally.

posted by: Wooster Squared on July 25, 2013  2:54pm


I too remember the Unionista’s petitioning to get on the ballots for both the primary and the general. It seems like now that they’re in power they want to limit other candidates’ access to the ballot, and cut unaffiliated voters out of the process. That didn’t take long at all.

In particular, Unionista favorite Adam Marchand had this say say to the NHI in August of 2011:

“...We think that for a while there’s been not enough debate, not enough richness of ideas,” Marchand said. “We have a party structure in New Haven that doesn’t offer enough debate and competition. And so it’s a good thing for the city to have more people running and to have a debate that lasts up until the general election.”

So why not run just as an independent in the general?

“I’m a Democrat. I wanted to make my case to Democrats about what I stand for and why I’m running,” Marchand responded. “We have a fair number of independent and unaffiliated voters in Ward 25. They’re going to have a chance to weigh in on these issues as well.”

posted by: robn on July 25, 2013  3:20pm



posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on July 25, 2013  6:02pm

This guy is all over the place. This guy is running a “mad man” campaign.  And by the way, Toni’s last name is Harp, not Zimmerman Mr. Carolina.  Every opportunity Kermit gets to speak into a microphone, he enjoys trying to demean Toni Harp.  Apparently your handlers failed to teach you how to respect your opponents whether you agree or disagree with them.  In this case her.

Clearly Kermit isn’t running for mayor.  Kermit is running from mayor with hopes of damaging Toni so his friend Henry can win.

Are you a Democrat or an Independent Mr. Carolina?  Independent voters are just like Democrats, we’re not stupid.  If you have no loyalty to Party, then you have absolutely no loyalty to people.

The only record you can possibly run on is your record as a principal of Hillhouse.  And between you and I Kermit, I think it would be best if we kept that dubious record between us. 

If the media/Independent Newspaper were to juxtapose the records of all candidates, we would clearly see that Toni is both credible and far more capable of being the next mayor.

posted by: stick21 on July 25, 2013  11:33pm

Wooooster and Brian L. Jenkins right on! I couldn’t agree more. Well said and to the point!