Voters on Tuesday rejected the state's first constitutional convention in more than 40 years — after a short, fierce battle of television ads by both sides.
As soon as the polls closed, the trend against the convention began. A series of small towns, including Andover, Colebrook, Columbia, Canterbury, Warren, Willington and Woodstock, all voted against the convention by huge margins. Voters in West Hartford were also rejecting the idea by more than a 2-1 ratio, according to unofficial results.
Statewide, the "no" campaign was leading by 60 percent to 40 percent as of 10:30 p.m.
The highly controversial issue generated about $1 million in spending by the "yes" and "no" campaigns that said the convention would either be an important step toward direct democracy or a potential disaster with mob rule.
"This election came down to basics: Most people do not want to use the state constitution to take away people's rights," said Peggy Shorey, campaign manager for Vote No.
A coalition of public school teachers' unions contributed most of the money for the "no" campaign. But the "yes" campaign said the General Assembly has clearly not done its job on issues like gay marriage, eminent domain and reining in state spending.
The "no" campaign was far outspending the "yes" campaign last month before the Connecticut Catholic Conference paid for a television commercial that showed a woman standing outside the state Capitol and urging voters to say "yes" on Election Day.
"The Church has been like the cavalry coming over the hill with guns blazing," said Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, which supported the convention. "The other side was outspending us 83 to 1. The only thing that leveled it out is the Catholic Church."
In another referendum question, voters approved allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will reach their 18th birthday by the time of the general election, according to unofficial results.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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