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Merrill Will Use Media Coverage To Pick The GOP Presidential Candidates

by | Jan 6, 2012 1:42pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2012, Election Policy

It seems strange that a Democrat would get to decide which Republicans are placed on the ballot, but Connecticut statutes give the secretary of the state the power to do just that.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, will get to decide which candidates end up on the presidential primary ballot, Av Harris, Merrill’s spokesman, said Friday.

The decision is made by monitoring state and national news coverage of the primary, Harris said. Candidates who are “generally and seriously advocated and recognized” by the media are added to the ballot. Those who don’t receive coverage won’t appear on the list that Merrill is scheduled to release on Feb. 10.

Harris said the process is fairly simple.

“The universe of candidates are well known for president. We’ve been gathering information and monitoring press coverage for more than a year,” he said.

Should a candidate who isn’t picked by the secretary of the state want to be included in the primary, Harris said there is a petition process to be added.

After the list is released in February, candidates who didn’t make the cut have until March 2 to file a petition with 7,500 names with registrars of voters, he said. They could also file a petition with enough names to make up 2 percent of the enrolled Republican party members, he said.

Though unusual, Harris said in practice the method of choosing candidates doesn’t tend to exclude candidates. He pointed to Republican candidate Newt Gingrich’s lawsuit in Virginia where Gingrich failed to collect the necessary 10,000 signatures in that state to gain access to the ballot. By comparison, it’s actually easier to get on the ballot in Connecticut, he said.

“Our trend is to be more inclusive than exclusive,” he said.

Though not quite as inclusive as New Hampshire, where all you have to do is “pay the secretary of state $1,000 and you’re on the ballot. We’re not that permissive,” he said.

However, Connecticut Republicans are unlikely to see-little known candidates like Fred Karger or Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer on their ballots.

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said he is fine with that.

“I really don’t see the purpose of fringe candidates or someone looking to gain publicity. I don’t see how that helps the process,” he said.

Labriola said he didn’t envision any controversy over Merrill’s selection of Republican candidates.

“I would assume she would default to the candidates who are still actively contesting the nomination,” he said.

It probably would not make sense to include Herman Cain on that list, he said. Cain has not officially withdrawn from the race, he has suspended his campaign.

Harris said Cain is an interesting case because he has gotten wide news coverage but seems unlikely to start actively campaigning again.

“I don’t think you could really argue that Herman Cain is still recognized as running for president,” he said.

Harris wouldn’t speculate on whether Merrill would decide to include the candidate, but said it will likely depend on what action, if any, he takes between now and Feb. 10.

On March 20 Merrill will hold a ceremony announcing the order the candidates will appear on the ballot. The Connecticut presidential primary will take place on April 24.

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(7) Archived Comments

posted by: Aldon_Hynes | January 6, 2012  2:15pm


The decision about who gets on the ballot is made by monitoring state and national press, and CT NewsJunkie just mentioned Fred Karger and Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.  Maybe the two of them should be on the Connecticut ballot.

posted by: kevinc526 | January 6, 2012  2:35pm

Governor Buddy Roamer should DEFINATLEY be on the ballot in CT. I just listened to a great interview of him on Democracy Now. I have also heard him on Rachel Maddow and The Young Turks. It is a shame that he has not been given a better chance to get his message out.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | January 6, 2012  4:03pm


Merril should rethink her position and sell a spot on the ballot for $1,000.

It would cover her salary and be easy to administer. The state could create a web site and make $1000 the entry fee for all offices for all elections as an alternate path to gathering signatures for ballot access or requiring the party nomination.

I’ve always wanted to run for President without leaving my Mother’s basement.

Creating a third-party should be just as easy.

posted by: ... | January 6, 2012  5:06pm


It seems candidate who has not suspended their campaign and has been in a majority of the Republican debates deserves a spot. That leaves Perry, Romney, Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich.

posted by: Tessa Marquis | January 6, 2012  6:26pm

Terry: Aldon was making a joke/point. You may need to unwind a bit.

posted by: William Jenkins | January 8, 2012  12:45am

Kevinc526, if you don’t even know how to spell your candidate’s name then even on the off chance Denise Merrill puts him on the ballot, you better learn the proper spelling.  Actually let me help you out, the right way to spell Governor Buddy Roamer’s name is “Mitt Romney” okay Kevin?  “Buddy” is just a silly nickname his mother gave him, his real name is “Mitt.”  By the way, there is definitely no letter “a” in DEFINITELY.

posted by: Brian Parker | January 8, 2012  1:26pm

Brian Parker

I would love to spin this and send a note to each candidate that you “NEED” iMN/OnTheHORN to get on the ballot, but there’s a stranger problem. If candidates don’t spend enough, media won’t cover them.

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