HARTFORD, Conn.—Connecticut Democrats on Saturday endorsed, by a simple voice vote, former Senate Majority George Jepsen as their pick for attorney general.
While pleased by the party's nomination, Jepsen acknowledged he was stunned. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had been the front runner for the endorsement, but learned just days ago that she could no longer run for the office after the state Supreme Court ruled she was not qualified for attorney general.
Bysiewicz appeared at the convention on Saturday to thank delegates for their years of support. She is not seeking any office in 2010 but did not rule out a future campaign.
Jepsen, a Stamford attorney, said he's "still shocked by the way events have moved down the track" but "ecstatic and delighted to be the party's nominee and not face a primary."
Republicans endorsed Avon attorney Martha Dean, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against current Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in 2002. In the primary, Dean will face attorney Ross Garber, best known for representing the office of former Gov. John G. Rowland during his impeachment hearings. Garber also is Bysiewicz' brother-in-law and decided to run only after she was disqualified.
"I was late to the convention," he said. "But in a primary, we both start in the same place."
The Supreme Court ruled 7-0 Tuesday that Bysiewicz, who has been secretary of the state for 11 years, fails to meet the minimum requirement of 10 years as a practicing lawyer to qualify for attorney general.
Both Democrats and Republicans met in separate conventions in Hartford to endorse candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state comptroller and secretary of the state. Following are the parties' picks:
-- Lieutenant governor: Democrats endorsed longtime Comptroller Nancy Wyman. She is gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy's running mate. Malloy, former mayor of Stamford, won the party's endorsement for governor on Saturday.
Taking a dig at the retiring Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and her administration, Wyman said she and Malloy would not have a "part-time administration." In a Malloy-Wyman administration, she said, "there are no empty offices in the governor's suite during the work day."
Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman won enough votes to challenge Wyman in an Aug. 10 primary. She is the running mate of Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, who won enough support to participate in a Democratic primary for governor.
Glassman said she and Lamont will begin getting their message out, and voters will see "clear differences" between the teams. She and Lamont will bring new ideas and outsiders' perspectives, she said.
Republicans endorsed Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who dropped out of the governor's race and instead ran as Michael Fedele's running mate. Lisa Wilson-Foley, a Simsbury businesswoman, received enough votes to run in a primary. GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley, who is not related to Wilson-Foley, did not choose a running mate but has said he would be happy to serve with either candidate.
-- Treasurer: Denise Nappier, the only incumbent constitutional officer running for re-election, was endorsed by the Democrats.
Her endorsement was the first of the day. First elected treasurer in 1998, She did not face any challengers for the party's nod.
Republicans endorsed Newington Mayor Jeff Wright, a one-time candidate for governor and a certified financial planner. Wright used his acceptance speech to blast Nappier for the performance of the state's pension fund and education savings plan and the state's overall fiscal health.
-- Secretary of the State: Jerry Farrell Jr., Connecticut's consumer protection commissioner, won the Republican endorsement. With Bysiewicz out of the picture, he said the GOP has a great opportunity to win the office. He promised to reduce state paperwork, if he's elected.
"So let me loose on the Secretary of the State's office. I've done it at Consumer Protection, you are able to find those efficiencies," he said.
Corey Brinson, a lawyer from Bloomfield, earned enough votes to run in a primary, but said he had not decided if he would. He would be the GOP's only African-American on the ballot.
Democrats endorsed House Majority Leader Denise Merrill, who thanked Bysiewicz for her service and pledged to help struggling small businesses.
State Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, garnered enough support to participate in the primary. Although financial adviser and former New Haven Alderman Gerry Garcia released his delegates to Harris, he also was considering challenging Merrill.
-- Comptroller: State Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, who served as an assistant state comptroller for more than six years, garnered the Democratic endorsement. He promised to build on Wyman's accomplishments as comptroller. State Rep Tom Reynolds earned enough votes to run in a primary.
Jack Orchulli, a fashion executive from Darien, won the GOP endorsement after the other Republican in the race, Stephanie Labanowski of Bolton, withdrew.