Conn. (WTNH) — Calls are mounting in the State Republican party for Chair J.R. Romano to resign. The anger comes on the heels of a recount in the 2nd Congressional district’s primary race. One of the candidates was arrested in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident. Some in the party say the allegations of criminal behavior were ignored.
After a recount this week, the results of the Republican primary for Connecticut’s 2nd district in the U.S. House of Representatives were reversed, and Justin Anderson is now the winner over Thomas Gilmer by a margin of 9,483-9,402.
Gilmer is the candidate who was arrested for assault on the eve of last week’s primary, charged with strangulation and unlawful restraint. The charges stemmed from a reportedly violent altercation with his former girlfriend.
By the deadline to finish counting absentee ballots last Thursday, Gilmer had held the lead by a slim margin of only 26 votes – 9225 to 9199. That percentage difference automatically triggered the recount which was completed and finalized Tuesday.
Gilmer had said that he would drop out of the race even if he were winning but had yet to file the paperwork to officially do so as of Thursday. That failure appears to be moot now following the recount.
Anderson will face incumbent Joe Courtney in November’s general election for the right to represent CT’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Meantime, a number of Republicans want an investigation into who knew what when surrounding those criminal allegations against Gilmer.
In April, a woman confided in Congressional candidate Anderson. She shared home security camera footage of her former boyfriend allegedly beating her. That ex-boyfriend was Gilmer – Anderson’s opponent.
“I saw the video, I was given the video by the victim and it was awful,” Anderson said.
News 8’s Jodi Latina asked him, “Can you tell me why you did not go to the police right away?”
Anderson responded, “She felt if police found out about it or were seeking him she would fear for her safety. I promised her ‘if you don’t want me to go to the police then I won’t’ and I stood by that.”
Anderson did, however, go the Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano the day before the party convention. Romano tells News 8 he never saw the video, never met the alleged victim, and told Anderson to go to the police.
“I’m not an arbiter of what is fact,” Romano told News 8.
He offered a contact for the state’s domestic violence liaison.
Romano also claims he confronted candidate Gilmer who denied the allegations.
Romano says because of COVID19 “none of this happened in person. This was all over the telephone and I pressed Mr. Gilmer and he flatly denied it consistently. He actually started lawsuits against people within the second congressional district.”
One day later, Gilmer was endorsed by the Republican Party at their convention.
Anderson begins to show the video to a select group of political operatives while he is on the campaign trail. He admits he was trying to discredit his opponent. Then, Gilmer hires a lawyer to stop Anderson from showing the video.
News 8’s Jodi Latina asked Anderson, “What can you say about a cease and desist order that was sent to you about a video you were sharing about your opponent?” Anderson responded, “Not sure what you want me to say. I received them yes, absolutely.”
Social media pressure by other Republicans forced Anderson to go to police.
“Someone threw it out there on Facebook…at that point, it’s totally out there and it’s public, then in my mind, you have to go to the police. Because at that point it’s the only thing that keeps her safe,” said Anderson.
Police launch an investigation on the eve of the election, Gilmer is arrested and charged with two felonies: strangulation and unlawful restraint.
In the arrest warrant obtained by News 8, the police sergeant says “he is able to identify the male in the video due to a previous incident as Thomas Gilmer.”
The warrant goes on to say, “Gilmer punches the victim in the face and jumps on top of her as she falls to the ground. Gilmer than attempts to choke the victim followed by multiple closed fist punches to the victim’s face.”
The sergeant then chillingly describes, “in the video it appears the victim is struggling for her life.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Karen Jarmoc says legally she can not confirm whether the victim reached out to her. But she does offer this advice: “police is not the only remedy. We know there are multiple ways for people to access safety and so the advocate is able to talk through options with them.”
Unaware of the arrest. Many voters had already cast their absentee ballots. The original primary vote results had Gilmer with a 15 vote win over Anderson. A recount is triggered.
Gilmer’s lawyer tells News 8 his client intends to enter a not guilty plea in court next month and will select a jury trial.
Meantime, Anderson tells News 8, “This is the best possible news. In this situation, there was one bad actor. I want to see the Republican party come together and flip this seat from blue to red in November and beat Joe Courtney.”