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Complaint Filed in Democratic Primary Battle for State Comptroller

by | Jul 19, 2010 12:45pm
() Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2010

A bruising Democratic primary battle for state comptroller just got a little nastier Friday when Michael Jarjura’s campaign manager filed a complaint against Kevin Lembo.

Jarjura, Waterbury’s mayor, and Lembo, state Health Care Advocate, are vying for the Democratic nomination for state comptroller on Aug. 10.

The complaint filed Friday by Robert Brown of Watertown alleges that Lembo can’t count the funds raised in his exploratory campaign toward the $75,000 he must raise in order to qualify for the $375,000 state grant.

In the complaint Brown opines that the money from the exploratory committee can’t be counted towards the total because Lembo declared his candidacy for lieutenant governor as far back as April. Such a declaration means Lembo would need to immediately form a candidate committee and Brown concluded that a reading of the new law says one candidate committee can’t transfer money to another candidate committee.

Lembo’s campaign called Brown’s complaint a “distraction.”  The Lembo campaign believes it followed the state’s clean elections laws when it transferred about $15,000 from the exploratory committee to the candidate committee.

In an email to Lembo supporters Saturday evening, Jacqueline Kozin, Lembo’s campaign manager, said Jarjura’s complaint is “baseless” and “without merit.”

However, the filing of the complaint did buy the Lembo campaign some additional time to raise more money.

“The CEP has advised us to continue raising additional contributions to serve as a buffer in case others are disqualified.  If we can raise an additional $4,000 by Sunday evening, we can resolve this matter quickly and avoid a Foley-esque court battle on our side of the aisle,” Kozin wrote in an email.

In a phone interview Monday Lembo said the campaign raised $6,000 over the weekend and is confident he will qualify for the $375,000 grant on Wednesday. Lembo maintains that he never declared his candidacy for lieutenant governor, which is the focus of Brown’s complaint.

A contentious campaign battle was strained even more by the fact that Jarjura and Lembo didn’t have much time to raise the money. They had close to nine weeks to raise the $75,000 because until mid-May state Comptroller Nancy Wyman was still running for re-election. That all changed when Wyman announced she was running for lieutenant governor.

Lembo had been exploring a bid for lieutenant governor since last year and Jarjura had mulled over bids for lieutenant governor, governor, and attorney general before settling on state comptroller. According to state records, Jarjura never raised any money during the exploratory phase of his campaign. Lembo sought to transfer about $15,000 in exploratory funds over to his candidate committee, similar to what Mary Glassman did when she formed her lieutenant governor committee.

Lembo received the Democratic Party’s endorsement at the convention in May and Jarjura won enough delegate support to primary after a vote swap between the Waterbury and New Haven delegations was brokered.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission approved Jarjura’s $375,000 grant last week and will consider Lembo’s grant application this Wednesday.

Depending on what happens in the primary, Lembo or Jarjura will end up running against Jack Orchulli, Republican candidate running for state comptroller.

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(4) Archived Comments

posted by: Tessa Marquis | July 19, 2010  4:02pm

I am sure that “brokered” is the correct word for the deal made between Waterbury and New Haven delegates at the Democratic convention in May, but it doesn’t convey the lingering stench of backroom cigar chomping that accompanied this “vote swap”.

With this one foul move, the leadership of the New Haven Democrats tossed out their previous claims of support for women’s reproductive rights and the civil rights of same-sex couples.

I remain disgusted with Garcia and his supporters in the New Haven Dems.

But…Thank you for printing the last sentence since I keep forgetting Orchulli’s name.

posted by: David K | July 19, 2010  4:05pm

I could not figure out why Jarjura was sort-of almost running for Governor.  I could not figure out why he wanted to be LG or AG or any G.  And I can not for the life of me figure out why he wants to be Comptroller.  I don’t know why he switched races so many times in so short a duration, but to me, it reveals a desire to get the heck out of Waterbury more than anything else.

In Lembo, Democrats have a candidate with the perfect resume and perfect skill set.  He wanted to be LG but had said all along that only Nancy Wyman’s entry into the race would prompt his withdrawl.  And since Lembo is a protege of Wyman’s, that made sense to me.

So now Dems get a choice: Jarjura: the guy who hired John Rowland, who clearly doesn’t think of the Comptroller’s job as his first choice, and who is trying to sue his way to success in an election he can’t win outright.  Or Lembo: the guy with years of experience as Wyman’s aide, who has testified before Congress and been invited to the White House because of his expertise on health care costs in state government (no small thing in the coming budgets), and who is routinely lauded for both his intellect and professional temperament, traits we need.

And it doesn’t hurt that Lembo comes from the ol’ “Democratic wing of the Democratic party” while Jarjura leans on right-wing endorsers and funding.  His only hope is a lawsuit, because on August 10, he ain’t gonna get too many Democratic votes.

posted by: mattw | July 20, 2010  1:09pm

Tessa - what did Jarjura get for delivering Waterbury’s delegation unanimously for Malloy?

Different delegations had different priorities: New Haven didn’t care who the Comptroller was, Waterbury (I assume) didn’t care who the Governor or SOTS would be. Why did a third of Stamford go for Jarjura? Frankly, it seems counterproductive to make statements like “disgusted”, when it’s likely just a case of different people having different priorities from you. Every single candidate—including the ones you favor—made deals like this.

posted by: Martha H | July 20, 2010  2:25pm

Martha H

“I have to get out of the house more often…”

From Mr. Jarjura’s new mailer:

“Mike Jarjura has helped turn a city on the brink of financial and ethical collapse into one of Connecticut’s top success stories.”

Waterbury… They’ve got that new Blue Back Square, right? Cooool….