Bernier Proposes Primary Pledge (release)
Justin Bernier, Republican candidate for U.S. Congress (CT-5), has proposed a pledge that could help the GOP avoid a contentious primary ahead of the 2012 elections.
The pledge is voluntary and open to any Republican running for federal office in the State of Connecticut.
Bernier, 36, of Plainville, said he became convinced that the pledge could help the party while watching the Republican presidential primary unfold.
"The Republican presidential primary has become a bloodbath," said Bernier. "The personal attacks being used will only help Barack Obama in the end. I believe we are seeing this because there is a crowded field of candidates whose campaign managers and consultants play to a media that prefers to cover Republican infighting instead of the issues."
Bernier noted that many Republican candidates in Connecticut ran negative television and radio ads during the 2010 primaries. Every Republican nominee for federal and statewide office went down to defeat in that year's general election.
"Primary elections should be about the issues and who is best suited to represent us," said Bernier. "Republicans in Connecticut can't afford to eat their own."
Support for 15% Pledge
The pledge has already received significant support in Republican circles.
Jim Campbell, a former congressional candidate and current Chairman of the Republican Town Committee (RTC) in Greenwich, said, "The purpose of the petition option is to make sure that no candidate is denied access to the ballot by political bosses," said Campbell. "But just because someone can primary, doesn't mean they should. When there is no incumbent in the seat, a viable candidate for Congress should be able to get 15 percent of the delegates at the convention. If that candidate doesn't reach 15 percent, then he or she probably doesn't have enough appeal and organization to be successful on Election Day anyway."
Jason Van Stone, Waterbury RTC Vice Chairman and member of the Board of Education, said, "As Republicans trying to turn the 5th district from 'blue' to 'red,' we need to avoid a bloody primary and focus our efforts on the Democratic opponent early and with a united front. That's why I believe that candidates who do not get 15 percent of the vote at the convention in May should take themselves out of the running."
Bernier has sent the pledge to all Republican candidates for Congress in Connecticut for consideration.
The Primary Process
Under Connecticut law, candidates for federal office can get onto the primary ballot in one of two ways.
The first way a candidate can qualify for the primary is to win the support of 15 percent of the delegates to the party's nominating convention. Republican delegates are selected from the towns according to local bylaws and party rules.
The second way onto the primary ballot is to collect petition signatures from two percent of registered Republican voters in the congressional district (in the case of congressional candidates) or the state (for senatorial candidates).
The Connecticut Republican Party has announced that it will hold the nominating conventions for U.S. Senate and Congress on May 18th. The primary election is scheduled for August 14th, leaving Republican nominees with less than three months to campaign before the general election in November.
According to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC, Connecticut and Utah are the only two states that use a convention prior to a primary to nominate candidates for office.
The text of the pledge reads:
"To give the Republican Party the best chance of victory on Election Day, we, the undersigned candidates for federal office, agree to not seek petition signatures for the Primary Election ballot in the event that our candidacy fails to receive 15 percent of the vote at the 2012 Connecticut Republican Convention on May 18th."