Greenwich Democrats pick candidate for race to succeed Camillo in Hartford

Ken Borsuk, Greenwich Time Insider, December 9, 2019

GREENWICH — Greenwich Democrats picked their candidate Monday night to run in the state legislature.

The party’s support went to candidate Cheryl Moss, a member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, at Monday night caucus in a vote of 16-9. She beat out former Board of Education Vice Chair Jennifer Dayton for the party nod.

“Our goal is to put a Democrat in this seat in Hartford, and I will work tirelessly over the next six weeks to win this election,” Moss said, later adding, “Thank you very much for your support. I promise not to let you down.”

The House seat has held by the Republican Party for decades.

Moss, who was unanimously elected chair of the RTM’s District 8 last week, told the DTC members that she was honored and humbled by their support and ready to “hit the ground running” given the short amount of time before the special election on Jan. 21.

In remarks before the vote, both candidates positioned themselves as the best choice to carry the Democratic banner in the special election, citing their policy positions, fundraising abilities and campaign strategies. Both said they could recruit volunteers, get absentee ballots to voters and reach out to unaffiliated voters and Republicans.

“I know this district,” Moss said, noting her deep friendships and relationships in the area and saying that she can appeal to all kinds of voters in the district. She noted that a “Republicans for Cheryl” group was forming, and that independents and unaffiliated voters would be joining it, too.

“This seat has been in Republican hands for 100 years,” Moss said. “My supporters and I are energized — and I feel with my deep roots in town, my family connections and my far reaching networks, we will win this election.”

The caucus was made up of Democratic Town Committee members who reside in the 151st District. A total of 30 members of the DTC were eligible to vote in the caucus.

There is one year left to finish in Camillo’s two-year term as a state representative. He resigned from the legislature last week after he was sworn in as Greenwich’s new first selectman.

On Sunday, the Republican Town Committee will pick its party’s candidate for the seat at a caucus at 4:30 p.m. in the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich.

Former town Tax Collector Tod Laudonia has declared his candidacy — but others are rumored to be interested in the seat as well. Greenwich multi-millionaire Harry Arora said late last month that he was considering a run, but no official announcements have been made. Additionally, Greenwich Board of Education member Peter Sherr, a past chair of the board, is another possible candidate.

Sherr and Arora did not return requests for comment Monday, but decisions from the possible candidates are expected in the coming days.

RTC Chair Richard DiPreta would not comment on any candidates Monday, but he spoke highly of the party’s chances in the special election.

“Fred Camillo has tirelessly and faithfully represented the interests of the 151st District and the town of Greenwich for the past 10 years,” DiPreta said. “With Fred now as the first selectman, we will caucus on Sunday to endorse the Republican candidate to continue Fred’s legacy.”

The deadline to place candidates on the ballot is Dec. 16. There is no mechanism for a primary, so the nominees are picked in party caucuses.

The district has been a Republican stronghold for decades, and Camillo did well in the 151st in his successful run for first selectman. But Greenwich Democrats have seen successes in recent runs for the state legislature. In 2017, State Rep. Stephen Meskers, D-150, and state Sen. Alexandra Bergstein, D-36, were both elected, breaking a long Republican winning streak in town.

The winner of the special election will fill out the remaining time in Camillo’s term, which he was reelected to in 2018. The seat, and all others in the state General Assembly, will be up for two-year terms in the November 2020 election.

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