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Election results: Leora Levy wins GOP Senate primary; Erick Russell wins Democratic treasurer primary

Voters across the state visited the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in a primary election that will set the stage for the state’s general election on Nov. 8.

A GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal commanded much of the attention in an otherwise slow summer primary, but a number of other races were decided including primaries for the office of secretary of the state and state Treasurer.

Trump-endorsed Leora Levy wins GOP Senate primary

Republican National Committee member Leora Levy has won the GOP primary race.

The Associated Press called the race for Levy at 10:49 p.m.

Levy defeated former Connecticut legislative Republican leader Themis Klarides, who conceded late Tuesday night. She was the party-endorsed candidate and a social moderate who supports abortion rights and certain gun control measures.

Levy, a first-time candidate who lent her campaign more than $1 million, touted her backing from former President Donald Trump as proof that she is a “true America-first patriot.” She is a GOP fundraiser and former commodities trader.

She and Peter Lumaj, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2018, each have argued that only a conservative can beat the incumbent Democrat, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, in the November election.

Leora Levy declares victory in GOP Senate primary

“President Trump’s endorsement proves to voters that all states are in the running to flip red," Levy said in a written statement after Trump announced his support over the phone during a GOP event in Montville on Thursday.

Speaking briefly to her supporters Tuesday night, Levy said it looked like her hometown voters in Greenwich came through in a big way.

“Like Dorothy said, there’s no place like home, so thank you!” Levy said. “Hopefully by the end of the night I will be on my way to representing the entire state, so I will have 168 more homes.”

Democrat Stephanie Thomas wins primary for secretary of the state

Stephanie Thomas (D-Sec. of the State endorsed candidate) gives a speech after winning the primary election at Trinity Bar, New Haven CT for Secretary of State.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
Democrat Stephanie Thomas, candidate for secretary of the state, gives a speech at Trinity Bar in New Haven after winning the primary election on Aug. 9, 2022.
Recap of treasurer and secretary of the state primaries

State Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk defeated New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond in the Democratic primary for secretary of the state.

During her victory speech, Thomas thanked supporters and pivoted to the fall general election. “I would like to appeal right now today to all unaffiliated voters and Republican voters who are looking for an alternative to conspiracy theories and this sowing of misinformation, who believe that it’s time to invest in our democracy and make sure that we have the infrastructure to run clean elections and that our registrars and town clerks are supported,” Thomas said.

Thomas, who is Black, has pledged to oppose Republican attempts to tighten voting rules and has said such restrictions hit close to home.

She said her father grew up during the 1940s in Georgia and never really learned to read, and her mother worked two jobs for most of her life and didn’t drive. It took an hourlong bus ride and a long walk along a highway to reach the nearest department of motor vehicles branch to register to vote.

“So when Republicans make it harder to vote, it’s folks like my mom they’re targeting,” she said in a recent commercial.

Republican Dominic Rapini wins GOP primary for secretary of the state

Republican Dominic Rapini will advance to the general election for secretary of the state.

The Associated Press projected Rapini, an Apple sales executive, as the winner of the Republican primary, defeating Terrie Wood.

Rapini has called for tightening ID requirements and cleaning the state’s voter rolls. He said he is suspicious about voter fraud, especially in the state's largest city of Bridgeport, where various state and local officials have been charged over the years with election fraud — from allegedly conspiring to fraudulently obtain public campaign funds to allegedly falsifying voter registration applications and absentee ballots applications.

Rapini is a former board chairman of a group called Fight Voter Fraud Inc., which was founded by a woman who filed dozens of complaints in Connecticut about alleged voter fraud during the 2020 election. Around the time Rapini left the group, the State Election Enforcement Commission dismissed most of the complaints, calling the them a “waste of the limited investigatory resources of the Commission.”

Erick Russell wins Democratic primary for state Treasurer

Democrats have chosen their nominee to fill the job of state treasurer, which is being vacated by Democrat Shawn Wooden.

Erick Russell, an attorney who specializes in municipal finances, won a race against Dita Bhargava, the chief operating officer of a private investment fund, and Karen Dubois-Walton, who oversees New Haven’s Housing Authority.

The victory puts Russell on track to become the first Black out LGBTQ person ever elected to statewide office in U.S. history, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

Russell will face Harry Arora, a state representative who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Jayme Stevenson wins GOP primary for Connecticut's 4th District

Republicans in the state's 4th Congressional District chose the party-endorsed candidate, Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes in November. Stevenson defeated Michael Goldstein, a doctor and lawyer from Greenwich.

The AP called the race for Stevenson at 10:53 p.m.

Democrats look ahead to the fall general election

Other races of interest

Voters share what drove them to the ballot box

In West Haven, registered Democrat Camille Cooper said abortion access is why she came out to vote.

“I’m for the right to choose. I think it should be rare, legal and safe,” Cooper said.

Reproductive rights are on voters’ minds after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

“A woman should have the right what she wants to do with her body — period," said John Panaroni, a registered Republican, also in West Haven.

Abortion is a key issue in a Democratic primary election in the city where Cooper and Panaroni live – the race for the 116th District in the state House of Representatives.

It’s one of a handful of General Assembly races on the ballot today.

Cooper said an FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate also motivated her to vote. The FBI conducted the raid Monday to investigate whether Trump took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, according to the Associated Press.

“Based on my political views, I was happy to see that something was being done to deal with some of the atrocious things that I think the former president has done,” Cooper said.

Registered Republican Peter Untiet, who voted in New Britain, said the FBI raid was “a big show.”

“It’s a political thing for the election coming up,” Untiet said, noting that the search won’t influence his voting decision in November and that he is more focused on inflation and gas prices.

“I’m just looking for a change in leadership – especially in Connecticut and right into Washington. I’m looking for a candidate who’s thinking about the American people.”

Secretary of the state encourages residents to get out and vote

Secretary of the State Mark Kohler holds a press conference to discuss the Connecticut primary at Pulaski Middle School in New Britain on August 9, 2022.
Tony Spinelli
Connecticut Public
Secretary of the State Mark Kohler holds a news conference to discuss the Connecticut primary at Pulaski Middle School in New Britain on Aug. 9, 2022.

Traditionally, turnout tends to be low for primaries compared to November elections.

Secretary of the State Mark Kohler said midday Tuesday that he wants to encourage everyone to get out for the primary and cast their vote.

"I voted in my hometown this morning — North Haven — and I, frankly, still get a thrill filling out a ballot," Kohler said.

As of midday, he said there “was nothing of significance” to report in terms of problems at polling places.

Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates said turnout for primaries generally hovers between 20% and 30% of eligible voters.

Overall, nearly 1.3 million people in Connecticut are eligible to vote in Tuesday’s primary elections.

Bates said it’s too early to tell how many people have already voted via absentee ballot, but in the 2020 primaries, absentee balloting increased sevenfold from the previous primary elections.

The extreme heat could also play a role in today's election. The National Weather Service said the heat index Tuesday will approach 100 degrees.

Note: Themis Klarides is married to Gregory B. Butler, who is a member of Connecticut Public's Board of Trustees. 

This story contains information from the Associated Press. Connecticut Public Radio's Frankie Graziano, Catherine Shen, Eric Aasen and Matt Dwyer contributed to this report.

Updated: August 10, 2022 at 1:35 PM EDT
This post has been updated.
Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.