December 15, 2019

Primary Expected for Republican 33rd Senate Nomination

AREAWIDE— An Aug. 14 primary is expected to decide the Republican nomination in the 33rd Senate District after Neil Nichols of Essex edged challenger Art Linares Jr. of Westbrook for the party endorsement Monday at the nominating convention in East Haddam.

The primary would pit Linares, 23, against Nichols, a retired airline pilot and self-described senior citizen who unsuccessfully challenged ten-term incumbent Democratic State Sen Eileen Daily of Westbrook in 2010. The Nov. 6 election will also include a Green Party candidate, Melissa Schlag of Haddam, an opponent of the controversial and now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that was supported by Daily last year.

Nichols, who represents the 33rd District on the Republican State Central Committee, edged Linares on a 24-22 delegate vote in the convention at the Old Town Hall in East Haddam. Linares said after the vote that he would contest Nichols for the nomination in an Aug. 14 Republican primary in the 12-town district.

The session began with convention chairman James McCabe of Portland attempting to exclude Valley News Now from direct coverage of the event, a move that was later overruled by the delegates. There was also an effort by some delegates to hold a secret ballot vote, an action not allowed by state law that requires a public role call vote of delegates.

Nichols, who formed an 2012 exploratory committee in March, was nominated by Kenneth Gronbach of Haddam, with seconding remarks by Cindy Varricchio of Portland, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, and Anselmo Delia of Clinton, the unsuccessful GOP nominee for regional judge of probate in 2010. Gronbach called Nichols “a decision maker,” and noted his experience as an airline pilot. Varricchio and Delia recalled Nichols efforts over the past five years supporting Republican candidates for state and municipal office. Varricchio added that Nichols, who lost to Daily on a 21,669-17,851 vote in 2010, had waged the closest race of any previous challenger to the long-time incumbent.

Linares, a co-founder of the Middletown-based Green Skies Renewable Energy LLC, was nominated by state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano of Old Saybrook, with seconding remarks from Thomas Lindner of Deep River. Lindner described Linares, the son of a Cuban immigrant who interned for Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, as “an exciting new face on the Republican scene” who could appeal to unaffiliated voters as well as Republicans.

Nichols said after the vote he is prepared for a possible primary contest with Linares. In remarks to the convention, Nichols pledged to run “a very spirited campaign” that would include “knocking on a lot of doors.”

The 33rd District nominating convention for Democrats is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Essex Town Hall. Daily established a candidate committee earlier this year, and is expected to be renominated for an 11th term in the district that includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

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