Primaries on Tap for State Rep and State Senate Races

Candidates are knocking on doors as the election season heats up — with potential primaries in both the race for Branford’s State Rep and the 12th District State Senate.  Democrats and Republicans have endorsed their candidates, but challengers are hoping to get their names on primary ballots by collecting enough petition signatures before June 12.

Democrats are expected to face a primary Aug.14 for the State Rep seat in the 102nd District, and also for the 12th District Senatorial seat.  However, no primary challengers have stepped up to challenge the endorsed Republican candidates in either race.

Prospective primary candidates for the State Rep’s seat would need about 270 signatures from registered Democrats in the 102nd District. For the 12th Senatorial seat, candidates would need about 1,114 votes from registered Democrats in any of the six towns in the district, which includes Branford, Guilford, Madison, North Branford, Durham and Killingworth.

But the world of politics is ever-changing.

What appeared to be a three-way primary race early this week for the Democratic ticket in the 102nd State Rep District is now a two-way race.

John Prins, who announced earlier his week he would seek a primary, decided on Tuesday to end his campaign. That means that the endorsed candidate Robin Comey will only have one prospective challenger in a primary.

The field became wide-open when State Rep. Lonnie Reed (D-102nd)  and State Senator Ted Kennedy (D-12th) announced they were not seeking re-election. Reed serves five of the seven voting districts in Branford. State Rep. Sean Scanlon, (D-98th District) who represents the other two voting districts and all of Guilford, is running unopposed.

102nd State Rep Challenge

Robin Comey, who lives in the Short Beach section of Branford, won the Democratic endorsement for the 102nd State Representative seat May 29.

Comey, who is a member of the Representative Town Meeting, earned 35 votes at the DTC meeting, John Prins took 13, and Adrian Bonenberger took 8 votes.

In her acceptance speech, Comey said she plans to focus on building Connecticut’s economy; developing a comprehensive transportation system; boosting the middle class; providing “cradle to career education;”  making Connecticut a “climate leader of tomorrow;” fighting for women’s rights and disability rights, and providing economic opportunity for all people.

Comey announced this week she has met the fundraising goal to be eligible for a Citizens’ Election Program grant of $25,000 from the State Elections Enforcement Commission. (SEEC)  “I am excited to have received donations from a wide variety of Branford residents, many of who told me it was their first time donating to a local campaign. I am particularly proud that there were many others who reached across party lines to show their support,” she said in a prepared statement.

She has been endorsed by Reed and Scanlon.

Bonenberger to Primary

Prins (pictured), a longtime member of the BOE,  told the Eagle after the vote that he wanted to look at his options before deciding whether to continue his campaign. Prins requested primary petitions Monday at the Registrar’s Office in Branford and told the Eagle Tuesday that he and his team were collecting signatures.

By this morning,  Prins changed his mind. “I was well on my way,” he said, but then realized there was just not enough time because of the late start.  But he didn’t rule out another state campaign sometime in the future.  “I will continue to work on the BOE to make a difference, and we’ll see what the future holds,” Prins said this morning.

So that means that Comey will only have one opponent in the primary.

Bonenberger (pictured), a former infantry officer who works in the communications office at Yale Medical School,  is seeking his first political office.  A Branford native, he describes himself as a progressive Democrat.

“Our plan was always to stay in the race and have a good solid primary,” Bonenberger told the Eagle after the vote. “When everybody works together — even if they compete together — the product is much better and much stronger.”

The Republican candidate for State Rep for the 102nd District in November’s general election is Robert Imperato, who received his party’s unanimous endorsement last month.

No Republicans challenged Imperato at the caucus and none have requested primary petitions at the Registrar’s Office.

State Senate Primary Challenge

Kennedy announced in February that he would not run Your text to link…for the 12th District senatorial seat which includes Branford, Guilford, Madison, North Branford, Durham and Killingworth.

Reed, Kennedy and Scanlon have all endorsed senatorial candidate Christine Cohen, who gained the 12th District Democratic endorsement May 21. Cohen, who resides in Guilford with her husband and three children, is a member of the town’s Board of Education.

In her acceptance speech, she described herself as a “pragmatic progressive.” She talked about state budget woes, environmental issues, living wages, job creation, and education. She called for collaboration and said, “We’re going to fight like heck to get Democrats elected.”

When Cohen announced her candidacy,  (link April 6) she said there needs to be a holistic approach to Connecticut. About a month after announcing her candidacy, she succeeded in raising enough funds to qualify for a Citizens’ Election Program grant.

For more information, see her Facebook page at Christine Cohen for State Senate.

However, two other Guilford Democrats are going door-to-door to collect signatures to force a primary — Wesley Jackson and Andy Gottlieb.

According to information from the Secretary of State’s office, a prospective senatorial candidate in the 12th District, who has not received a party endorsement, must collect about 1,014 signatures by June 14. The petitions for a state senate seat are requested from the Secretary of State’s office, and must be returned to the Registrar of Voters office in the district hometown of each person who signed the petitions.

Jackson, who lives in Guilford with his wife and three children, has worked at a bio-pharmaceutical company for 16 years. He describes himself as a progressive Democrat who is running because he feels working families deserve better representation.

For more information, see his website at

Gottlieb, 24, is a Guilford resident and describes himself as a progressive Democrat. He graduated from Wesleyan University and has a MS in international relations and economics from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He worked as an intern for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.

Gottlieb said a main concern is the state’s budget problems and spending cuts that affect healthcare, education and essential services.

For more information, see his website at

Almost a Republican Senatorial Primary

Two Branford businessmen were vying for the Republican endorsement as a candidate for the 12th District Senatorial seat.

Adam Greenberg won the Republican endorsement May 14, but Jerry Mastrangelo said he would collect signatures and petition to have his name on a primary ballot.

However, on June 1 Mastrangelo said on Facebook that he would not continue his campaign. “I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you, that after much reflection, I have decided to suspend my campaign for state senate. This was a difficult decision to make, especially because of all the incredible support I received from hundreds of you in the 12th district.”

Mastrangelo further said he received word that a primary would be “unwanted and unsupported by the Republican Party.”

Mastrangelo is an owner of numerous Planet Fitness gyms, including ones in Branford and Guilford.

Greenberg (pictured) is the founder and CEO of LuRong Living, a nationwide health and wellness company. He was a former Major League baseball player who was seriously injured when he was hit in the head with a fastball in his first appearance playing for the Chicago Cubs. He later played minor league baseball in Bridgeport and wrote a book about his life in baseball, “Get Up: The Art of Perseverance.”


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