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Petition Drive Seeks To Unseat Delegates

May 12, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer

Political opponents of Mayor Eddie A. Perez continued their efforts to unseat the city's delegation to the state Democratic Party convention by filing a petition Thursday with the state party's central office.

Nick Carbone, state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez and others excluded from the delegation have argued that the process used by the city's town committee to select the delegates to the convention was improper. On Monday, a panel of the state Democratic Party rejected those claims.

Now, before asking a state court to intervene, Carbone and Gonzalez decided to complete the state party process by filing a petition to challenge the Hartford delegation - another challenge permitted by party rules.

"We've been told by lawyers that until we exhaust all of the administrative remedies, a court won't issue a restraining order," Carbone said Thursday.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Noel F. McGregor Jr. called the effort "sour grapes."

"The problem is that they have not been involved with the town committee for the past two-plus years, and they expect just to be at the table," McGregor said. "There is no entitlement to be a delegate. ... Had they been more active, I would have included them in the process."

As with the original complaint, the petitions are challenging the validity of Hartford's delegates to the convention that will decide whether Dannel P. Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, or New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., will be the Democratic candidate for governor.

Perez is a close ally of Malloy, and a majority the Hartford delegation is expected to commit to Malloy.

McGregor also questioned the signature-gathering effort itself, saying that DeStefano campaign workers were part of the petition drive - a clear demonstration of meddling from outside Hartford, he said.

"This is an internal Hartford issue," McGregor said. "It's Hartford politics, not New Haven. We're not going down to New Haven and fighting for delegates down there for anybody."

Carbone said he enlisted lots of support to gather the required signatures in a short period of time.

"We've called people to assist us," he said, though he said he didn't know if DeStefano campaign aides were part of the canvassing. Even if they were, he said, "So what? That's irrelevant to the issue."

A spokesman for DeStefano said his campaign had no role in the signature gathering or the dispute at all. "It's an issue between people in Hartford," said Derek Slap. "We just think it's best to let people in Hartford deal with it."

Efforts to reach the Malloy campaign were unsuccessful.

Kevin Reynolds, legal counsel to the state Democratic Party, said a committee of the state party will hold a hearing on the matter before the convention convenes.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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