Santiago decides not to primary, will seek re-election to Meriden House seat

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MERIDEN — Democratic state Rep. Hilda Santiago announced she has ended her bid for Secretary of the State and will refocus on winning re-election to a sixth term representing the all-Meriden 84th House District. 

In an email to supporters Wednesday evening, Santiago said she decided not to move forward with a primary for the Democratic nomination for the statewide office.  

“This was a difficult decision. So many people have called in the past week to urge me to primary, and I am grateful for their continued support and the faith they have in our movement, but at the end of the day, I simply do not see how a three-way primary helps us win in November,” Santiago wrote in the message. 

“Too much is at stake to risk losing the Secretary of the State’s office,” the message continued. “This race was always about protecting voting rights—first and foremost—and also about my qualifications, my experience, and how my candidacy as a Latina could help us as a party. It was never about me; it was about so much more than one person.”

The announcement came a day before the Meriden Democratic Town Committee was scheduled to hold its nominating convention at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center, during which candidates will be chosen for the 82nd, 83rd and 84th house districts. 

More than a month prior to the recent statewide convention in Hartford, Santiago’s campaign announced it had neared the fundraising total needed to qualify for public financing through the state’s Citizens Election Program. The threshold for candidates seeking statewide office, besides governor, is $86,600 in total contributions from individual donors. The limits set on those contributions range from a minimum of $5 to a maximum of $290, according to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

At the time of that announcement, made in early April, Santiago had raised $70,406 through her exploratory and candidate committees. 

According to the Santiago for Connecticut committee’s April 10 quarterly campaign finance filing, the candidate committee had raised $48,141. Its balance of cash on hand was $31,039.50. The next state-required quarterly campaign finance report is due July 10. 

During the statewide Democratic Convention in Hartford earlier this month, state Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk garnered the support of a majority of delegates. 

The race’s crowded field also included state Sen. Matt Lesser, New Haven Democrats Maritza Bond and Darryl Brackeen, and state Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden.

Santiago received at least 15% of the votes during the convention, which was enough to participate in a primary. Santiago, Lesser and Bond were the three candidates who had secured enough votes to qualify for a primary. Lesser was the first candidate who had qualified to officially withdraw from the race, according to the Connecticut Mirror. 

The Meriden Republican Town Committee held its party’s nominating convention Wednesday night. No candidates emerged, leaving the races for the 82nd and 84th districts virtually unopposed at the moment.

Republican Lou Arata, who is running for the 83rd District, said it takes a good candidate to “step up and run and unfortunately, it could be a sign of the times. It could be that people are busy working. They don’t have the ability to. They don’t have the available time.”

Arata said added to that is the problem of “one party control” in the state, in reference to the Democratic Party.

“People feel, should I really be biding my time and effort running in a system that is so one-sided...” Arata said, adding he has the opposite take and wants “to do better for my fellow citizens and my community.”

On Santiago, Arata said “it’s telling” that she is dropping out of the Secretary of the State race.

“Her passion at the beginning of her campaign for Secretary of the State was that she was going to do this for the betterment of the citizens of Meriden, of the state. And she ultimately pulled out,” Arata said. 

Democrat Michael D. Quinn, the incumbent representative for the 82nd District, is running for re-election and is expected to secure the Democratic Party nomination during its convention Thursday night. 

Berlin Democrat Jack Fazzino is also seeking the open 83rd district seat being vacated by Democrat Catherine Abercrombie. 

Santiago is expected to receive the Democratic nomination for re-election in the 84th. After the nominating convention, Santiago will have 10 days to establish a formal candidate committee for the campaign.

Santiago, in her message to statewide supporters, wrote, “We as a party must become more equitable, more forward-thinking, and more inclusive to all, and I will continue to work toward making that vision a reality. Thank you for being there for me and our campaign. You had my back, and I will always have yours.”  

Reporter Michael Gagne can be reached at


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