Republican candidates, one from Southington and one from Berlin, are both hoping to run for the 30th state house district.
Donna Veach, a Berlin Town Council member, got five of the nine delegate votes cast at a party nominating convention last week. Jim Townsley, a Southington pastor, got four votes but plans to primary.
Berlin comprises more than half of the district. The Southington’s Republican committee gets four delegates to the district convention and Berlin’s committee gets six. One Southington delegate abstained from the vote last week.
Veach, the top vote-getter during the Berlin Town Council election last year, said she has the best chance of winning the seat.
“I feel that I have all the right ideas going into this,” she said.
She filed her candidacy with the State Elections Enforcement Commission last week before the convention.
Townsley said he’s been campaigning since earlier this year and contacted Berlin Republicans about whether someone from their town was running.
“They had a last-minute candidate,” he said. “I’m so far in it I just said, ‘I’ll keep going.’”
A primary would take place on Aug. 11.
In a release, Veach said she’s looking to bring manufacturing back to the state, supports Second Amendment rights and opposes tolls.
Veach is development and marketing director at the New Britain Youth Museum and Hungerford Nature Center.
Townsley is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Southington and founder of Central Baptist Academy and New England Baptist College.
Sandra Coppola, Berlin Republican Town Committee chairwoman, said Veach had been considered for the 30th district seat well before the convention.
“We believe in her, we believe she’s a very strong candidate and she’ll do a good job,” Coppola said.
Steven Kalkowski, Southington Republican Town Committee chair, said the town party was supporting Townsley in the primary but would throw its weight behind Veach if she won.
“We will get right behind her,” Kalkowski said. “We need a Republican in that seat and we need to win that seat back.”
Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat and house speaker, is not running for reelection this year. He narrowly held his seat two years ago against a political newcomer from Southington.
JoAnn Angelico-Stetson, a Berlin Town Council Democrat, is also running for the seat.
Kalkowski said he’s impressed with how much support Townsley has gained and the work he’s done building his campaign. Townsley has never run for office but helped on state campaigns for other Republicans.
“He has the full campaign framework already identified,” Kalkowski said. “It’s amazing how much work he’s done to get prepared.”
With all that work done, Kalkowski said Berlin’s candidate came as a surprise.
A primary allows Townsley and Veach to apply for an additional $10,000 in public campaign financing. Townsley has raised the money he needs for public financing and Veach is working to raise the money.
Townsley said the additional primary money would only help him in the general election.
Coppola didn’t see a primary as benefiting the candidates.
“I don’t think it’s the best thing for the Republican Party, but that’s the process,” she said.