MERIDEN — Two Libertarian candidates won’t be on November’s ballot after the Secretary of the State’s office rejected their state party’s endorsement letters.
According to Roger Misbach, the Libertarian party had gathered enough petitions to put a placeholder, his wife Ellen Misbach, on the ballot for mayor.
Roger Misbach originally intended to run for a City Council seat in Area 4, but after learning that incumbent Mayor Kevin Scarpati was running unopposed at the time, he decided to run for mayor. Scarpati, who is not affiliated with any party, has since been challenged by Republican Ernestine Holloway, a petitioning candidate..
The state Libertarian Party sent endorsement letters to the Secretary of the State’s office for Roger Misbach for mayor and Ellen Misbach for Area 4, different than what the submitted petitions had read.
“We didn’t put that one candidate (Ellen) was ‘withdrawing’ and ‘replaced with’ in there,” Misbach said.
The Misbachs were approved to appear on the ballot, but on Sept. 18 Party Chairman Dan Reale received an email from the Secretary of the State’s office saying the names on the petitions differed from the state party’s endorsement letters and they would not be on the ballot.
“Your endorsement letter for Mayor and Council #4 were switched as you indicated Ellen Misbach for Council Area #4 when she ran for Mayor and Roger Misbach for Mayor and he ran for Council Area #4,” stated Pearl Williams of the Secretary of the State’s office in an e-mail to Reale. “Therefore, in conjunction with your endorsement letter, I must rescind your approval letters to appear on the Nov. 5, 2019 municipal ballot.”
Misbach and the state Libertarian Party intend to challenge the decision, despite it being too late for November’s election, he said.
”There is no statute we can find that says the letter has to be drafted that way,” Misbach said. “Obviously it’s somebody’s interpretation. This happens to the Independent and other third parties.”
A spokesman for the Secretary of the State’s office said the office received petitions for one candidate and endorsements for another. A withdrawal in writing or even crossing off one name and adding another before the deadline would have sufficed.
The endorsement letters arrived at 1 p.m. on Sept. 4, the deadline for submissions.
“We need to have the proper number of petitions and an endorsement from the minor party,” said spokesman Gabe Rosenberg. “Those two things need to be in place. We don’t have discretion. That’s pretty clear.”
Reale and Misbach disagree.
"The party's position is that we have used placeholder candidates for decades and had no issue doing so,” Reale said in an e-mail. “What was done — arbitrarily denying any Libertarian Party candidate ballot access for either position, is downright arbitrary and unconstitutional. The party has adopted a zero tolerance policy for these sort of things because they have continued to waste valuable resources and time we could otherwise spend campaigning and giving the voters a choice they want and the relief they desperately have waited for."
Libertarian candidate Richard Cordero is on the ballot in the Area 1 City Council race.