The Independent Party is looking to nominate candidates for area legislative races despite an ongoing lawsuit over which faction controls the party’s ballot line.
The Independent Party of Connecticut has factions in Danbury, Waterbury and Milford who remain at odds over the nomination for top-of-the-ticket races. As a restult, the Independent Party had no candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016 and risks the same fate this year.
Michael Telesca, chairman of the Independent Party based in Waterbury, said the party will caucus on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 835 Hanover Road in Meriden. The party intends to nominate candidates for the 13th Senate and 83rd House districts.
“This is one of several caucuses that should be held within the district,” Telesca said.
Telesca accused the Danbury faction of using the Independent Party line as a way to get Republicans, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton, two lines on the ballot.
“They are attempting to use the Independent Party as a wing of the Republican Party,” Telesca said.
The Danbury faction sued the Waterbury faction in 2016 for trying to inaccurately rewrite the party’s rules to gain control of the ballot line. The Independent ballot position in statewide elections is fourth, beneath Democrat, Republican and Working Families.
The Waterbury faction was allowed to countersue and both parties have finished presenting arguments and are awaiting a final disposition.
Trial referee A. Susan Peck has asked the parties, including Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, to weigh in on whether the court has jurisdiction over who controls the party, or if the dispute should be resolved by the legislature or the factions themselves.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Murphy-Osborne, representing Merrill’s office, wrote that the secretary of the state’s office was neutral on the question of who, if anyone, goes on the Independent line, but a decision needs to be made soon. Nominations for the Nov. 6 election are due in early September.
Lawyers for the Danbury faction have argued that the Waterbury and Milford factions did not properly amend the 2006 party rules, so they don’t apply. Third party rules are significantly less structured than rules governing the two major parties.
Both sides want the court to resolve the matter so they can continue to recruit and support candidates without fear that they won’t be allowed on the ballot.
“The parties in this case clearly have shown that there is a controversy between them — control of the Independent Party of Connecticut, and by its very nature such a controversy is adverse,” according to lawyers for the Danbury faction. “Such a controversy is capable of being adjudicated by a judicial power, particularly when a party to the litigation has suffered, or stand to suffer irreparable harm.”