Meeting Postponed After Democrats Hear A Problem With Rules May Keep Delegates Home
March 22, 2006
By OSHRAT CARMIEL, Courant Staff Writer
They took attendance and said a prayer
to the Lord. That much, everyone agreed on.
But when it came time Tuesday for the
70 members of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee to get to business
- picking delegates to the state convention that will endorse candidates
for governor and U.S. Senate - that's when the trouble began.
Several disgruntled party members contended,
with the aid of legal documents, that the entire gathering was illegitimate,
that every member of the town committee assembled there was a renegade.
And if that illicit group were to select
delegates to the state convention, the disgruntled faction charged,
those delegates would be illegitimate and - this is not an idle
threat in Hartford politics - the entire matter would end up in
So Noel F. McGregor Jr., chairman of
the Democratic Party, postponed the meeting until next Tuesday in
order to sort things out. "It could put us in a situation where
we won't have any delegates" to the state convention, McGregor
At the center of the dustup is the
3rd District town committee, led by state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez.
Members of her district, at odds with the city's Democratic Party
machine and Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who largely controls it, were
excluded from the proposed list of 54 delegates to May's state convention.
The list of delegates did include members
of every other district as well as people on the slate that unsuccessfully
challenged Gonzalez's district at the polls earlier this month -
among them, the mayor's brother, William.
So Gonzalez, with the help of former
deputy mayor - and expert reader of fine print - Nicholas Carbone,
lobbed a wrench into the party machinery.
Carbone, a member of Gonzalez's 3rd
District committee, said Hartford's Democratic town committee as
composed is illegal, because the party did not file an update of
its rules with the secretary of the state. Doing so is mandatory
under state law - even the party's legal counsel for the evening,
Michael Collins, agreed.
The last time Hartford's Democratic
town committee filed its rules with the secretary of the state'
s office was in 1983. And the rules were different then; under those
rules, the town committee should have no more than about 35 members
- half the number who assembled Tuesday to help choose between incumbent
Joseph I. Lieberman and Ned Lamont for U.S. Senate and between John
DeStefano Jr. and Dannel P. Malloy for governor.
"Right now it's not a legal town
committee," Carbone said.
Even if the party were to update its
rules with the secretary of the state's office, Carbone said, it
would take 60 days for the new rules to take effect - a real problem
for Hartford, since convention delegates must be picked by the end
of this month. Hartford has the third largest delegate group to
the state convention after Bridgeport and New Haven.
"We don't know what the cure is,"
He did, however, suggest including
members of Gonzalez's town committee on the list of delegates. That,
he suggested, might make the legal challenge go away.
"We're looking for a fair method
where all members of the party have a say," Carbone said. "This
is not a club."
McGregor, the party chairman who drew
up the delegate list, said the exclusion of Gonzalez's group was
intentional, a response to what he said was their lack of participation
in the party's meetings and other planned events over the last two
years. "I did not want to reward them for their inactivity,"
McGregor said later.
He declined to say whether he would
reconfigure the list to include Gonzalez and her posse, but said
he would consult with lawyers and think about it.
"There's no ruling that says you
have to select certain people as delegates," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at