HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Monday that a lawsuit filed by the Connecticut Republican Party challenging the order of candidates on November's election ballot is a "regrettable distraction" and a "waste of valuable resources and taxpayer money."
Merrill made the remarks on the eve of a statewide primary. A hearing on the GOP's lawsuit is planned Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court, a busy day for her staff, she said.
"I do feel it is a regrettable distraction to the real job we have to do, as well as a waste of valuable resources and taxpayer money, to go to court over an issue that has dubious, at best, value to the Republican Party," Merrill said.
Jerry Labriola Jr., chairman of the state Republicans, defended the lawsuit.
"The statutes that outline ballot ordering remain clear that Republicans should receive the top line," he said. "Although we wish we did not have to resort to seeking a remedy in the court, we have faith in the judicial process and look forward to our opportunity to be heard tomorrow."
Republicans maintain that their candidates, not the Democrats, should be on the top line of the statewide ballot in November even though a Democrat won the 2010 governor's race. That's because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ultimately won with votes he garnered as a Working Families Party candidate.
Republican Tom Foley received 560,874 votes, while Malloy won 540,970 as a Democrat and 26,308 as a Working Families Party candidate.
Merrill's office has said that the Working Families Party did not have minor party status in 2010, so the line goes to Malloy's party.
"We are confident we have consistently interpreted the law and applied it correctly," Merrill said. "Our legal conclusion was, the party of the governor — in this case the Democratic party — gets the top ballot line in Connecticut elections. The law is well-established."
Merrill said she's offended the state GOP is implying her office's decision was partisan.
"It is no secret that I am a Democrat," she said, "but that's not how I make election administration decisions."
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