MERIDEN — Democrats in the 13th Senate District could be looking at a primary battle this summer ahead of what is expected to be one of the most hotly-contested legislative races come November.
A 23-year-old Democrat, who recently moved to the city, has raised $4,000 in his exploratory bid to run for the seat, but hasn’t decided if he’ll force a primary against lifelong Meriden resident, Mary Daugherty Abrams, who has garnered the early support of delegates.
Alex Tiktinsky, formerly of Fairfield, has been considering a run since Susan Bysiewicz announced she was going to run for governor. Tiktinsky, who worked on Bysiewicz’s campaign when she was considering her own run in the 13th District, hasn’t stopped his exploration.
Republican state Sen. Leonard Suzio, also of Meriden, currently holds the seat. Suzio, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has not filed for the 2018 election and has previously said he won’t make a decision until after the legislative session ends in early May.
With the two parties holding conventions for endorsements next month, Tiktinsky expects to make his decision sooner.
“I will be making a decision probably by the end of the month,” Tiktinsky said. “If there’s a primary, it will be over who has the best ideas, not who can throw the most dirt.”
The district’s Democratic leaders have expressed support for Abrams, a long time resident, who is married to judge and former state Rep. James Abrams. But Tiktinsky said he has the political savvy, ideas and energy to beat Suzio in the general election.
Tiktinsky claims local party leaders have their minds made up and are ensuring support for Abrams, making it difficult for him to win over delegates needed to challenge for the nomination in an August primary. He also accused local Democrats of not doing the necessary work to get former state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo a victory against Suzio in 2016.
Tiktinsky insists he can help harness energy from younger voters, adding that he has been hearing support from residents while knocking on doors.
“Voters are receptive to a new generation of leadership,” Tiktinsky said. “We’re galvanized.”
Some Democrats question why he isn’t challenging Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, for his home seat. Tiktinsky replied that in the five months he’s worked here, he’s come to “love the district.”
Meriden Democratic Town Chairwoman Millie Torres-Ferguson supports Abrams, but said there has been no formal endorsement. Tiktinsky may have moved to the district only weeks ago, but Torres-Ferguson said he’s free to solicit support from delegates ahead of the May 21 convention.
“We didn’t endorse anyone,” Torres-Ferguson said. “Mary (Abrams) still needs the support of the delegates. We’re not even at that step yet.”
Democrats including Bartolomeo and state Rep. Catherine Abercrombie, D-Meriden, spoke on Abrams’ behalf because she has deep roots in the community, something Tiktinsky lacks, Torres-Ferguson said.
“As far as I know, I’m the only candidate,” Abrams said. “He’s had the same opportunities with the town committees as I have. That’s all the Democratic process.”
Abrams has also been knocking on doors, meeting with various stakeholder groups and fundraising. An April 10 Elections Enforcement Commission filing reported Abrams has raised $9,030.
“The biggest thing is making sure the voters understand the issues,” Abrams said. “And getting out the vote.”
Abrams wouldn’t speculate on why Bartolomeo lost the 2016 election to Suzio, but said “it serves as a wake up call to vote.”