MERIDEN — Republican former state Sen. Leonard Suzio may not have officially announced a bid for his old 13th District seat, but he’s been acting a lot like a candidate.
Suzio, a member of the Victim Advocate Advisory Board for the State of Connecticut, called for the resignation of Undersecretary of Criminal Justice Michael Lawlor Thursday claiming he consistently “misled the public about a dangerously flawed law.” Suzio has made eliminating the state’s risk reduction credit law one of his central themes since a convenience city store clerk was shot and killed by a convicted criminal in 2012.
“In Meriden, I believe the controversy of early release programs will become an issue because it hits home,” Suzio said.
Suzio also weighed in recently about his concerns over planning for increased downtown traffic should the city’s transit-oriented development be as successful as promised.
Suzio, who lost the 2012 election to Democrat state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo by 279 votes, said he’s been approached by state GOP leaders and has been measuring support for a run among voters in Meriden, Middlefield and Middletown and Cheshire, as well as his wife Kathryn, who is less than thrilled about another campaign but will support her husband’s decision.
Suzio believes Bartolomeo is vulnerable because of her support of Democratic-backed issues. Newly elected Republican Mayor Manny Santos also gives the local GOP hope.
Meriden Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Mildred Torres-Ferguson said Suzio is a right-wing candidate whose policies don’t sit well with the average person in the district. She accused Suzio of focusing on two issues; the gas tax, and risk reduction credits.
“I think the average voters expects more of their senator than two issues,” Torres-Ferguson said.
She also disagreed that Bartolomeo was vulnerable and said she had strong support in the district and at the capitol. Bartolomeo also has a proven record of working with both parties and points to passing a mental health bill and her efforts to prevent video gambling, secure funds for the downtown Hub project and the Cheshire food pantry, she said.
“Both of those (bills) were bi-partisan,” Torres-Ferguson said. “That’s something he’s never been able to do.”
Bartolomeo said she’s too busy representing voters in the General Assembly’s legislative session to address Suzio’s criticism.
“But in all my years, I’ve never heard anyone describe me as vulnerable,” Bartolomeo said during a break at local forum with the governor. “I’m absolutely running again, and thrilled to represent the 13th District. I’m working day and night doing the job. I will begin campaigning after the session ends.”
State Sen. Joseph Markley, R-16th District, is among those encouraging Suzio to run again.
“It’s a strong possibility,” he said.