Simsbury Democrats battle it out for General Assembly nomination – Hartford Courant
Simsbury — Democratic hopefuls for the Simsbury 16th District General Assembly seat are seeking key endorsements and voter support in the battle for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 9 primary.
Simsbury Democrats will decide whether former first draft pick Eric Wellman or attorney Melissa Osborne will face Republican nominee Mike Paine in November for the seat vacated by State Rep. John Hampton.
This week, U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT5) endorsed Wellman, a current member of the Simsbury Board of Selectman who served in the city’s first select seat for two terms from 2017 to 2021. In addition to local officials, the Simsbury Democratic Town Committee gave Wellman their approval in May. State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-17) endorsed Wellman on Monday.
Osborne, the petitioning candidate who lost state Senate elections in 2014, 2018 and 2020, holds the endorsements of Hampton and former Simsbury elected officials Mary Glassman and Anita Mielert. Osborne also received an endorsement this week from State Sen. Saud Anwar, who represents Connecticut’s Third District.
Both candidates share similar beliefs about safeguarding access to abortion, protecting the environment, supporting schools, expanding gun safety and maintaining affordability for children. residents, especially those on fixed incomes.
“When it comes to finances, I understand that we have to make tough choices between good things so that we can all continue to afford to live in Connecticut,” Osborne said. “I’m willing to make really tough choices between really good things that everyone wants to make sure everyone has what they need.”
Osborne said she considers herself a pragmatic Democrat and a pro-women candidate. Osborne said she would like to tackle the justice system to ensure fair outcomes for victims of domestic violence, something she became deeply familiar with when she opened her family and juvenile law firm in Avon. .
Wellman said that through his experience in government, he sees himself as a bridge builder.
“I know I can bring people together,” Wellman said. “When I was first elected to my two terms, I had a board of three Democrats and three Republicans, and I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I know I will work with n anyone from any party on areas we have in common.
For Wellman, if elected, the environment will be a top concern. He said he wanted to make Connecticut a leader in reducing emissions and carcinogenic chemicals, increasing sustainability and preparing Connecticut for extreme weather events down the road.
Both candidates said the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was a key motivation in their campaigns as they sought to protect women’s and LGBTQ rights.
Wellman and Osborne expressed concerns about giving Republicans an extra seat in the General Assembly at a time when the end of federal abortion protections leaves the decision to state legislatures. But Mike Paine, the Republican candidate in the November election, disagrees.
“I think that’s an incorrect statement,” Paine said. “[Abortion] is not a party issue. It’s a personal question. A woman’s right can be, should be, and is protected in the State of Connecticut, and I will continue to support and protect it.
Paine, the president of Paine’s Inc. Recycling and Rubbish Removal with a history of civic involvement, said if elected he would focus on increasing affordability for residents, supporting schools and local businesses, limiting budget increases and reducing city spending by funding or eliminating unfunded mandates.
Paine said he would like to “bring practicality and common sense” to the legislation passed in Hartford to ensure the laws are achievable and not ambitious.
Paine said he had no preference for who he might face in November.
Osborne said she was the best Democrat to face Paine, citing her performance in the 2020 election. In this cycle, Osborne ultimately lost the state senate election in other cities, but in Simsbury outscored her Republican contender by a margin of 1,479. With 8,583 votes, Osborne said she became Connecticut’s highest-ranking Democratic voter in Simsbury history.
Wellman points out that although Osborne could have gotten more votes, Wellman never lost a race and he’s won against Paine before. In the 2017 mayoral elections, Wellman beat Paine for the top pick by a margin of 34 votes. During her re-election campaign in 2019, Wellman defeated her Republican competitor Cheryl Cook by 946 votes.
Alison Cross can be reached at [email protected]