While a case concerning alleged problems with absentee ballots had its opening hearing in Superior Court this week, fissures in the city’s minority party came to the fore. At issue is the now 32-vote win of Mayor Nancy Rossi over her Republican opponent Barry Lee Cohen three weeks ago.
Following the recount, Nov. 7, Cohen’s attorney, Vincent Marino listed what he believed to be several problems with absentee ballots in the recount. Those concerns included chain-of-custody issues, no signatures on inner envelopes, and other issues that should have disqualified the ballots, including an alleged Hamden resident voting.
Due to the narrowness of the vote totals, now giving Rossi a 4,275-4,243, Cohen had 14 days to determine if he would take it to court. That decision was made with the first hearing yesterday. The case was continued until after the holiday.
The issue has brought out some undercurrents in the Republican Party. Cohen has refused to concede the election, pending the outcome of the court case. That decision has incurred the ire of three former GOP Town Chairmen, Paul Frosolone, Pat Libero, and Colleen O’Connor.
A letter was sent to local press, including the Voice, none of which have chosen to print it because of its ad hominem nature, and possible slander. The letter called for Cohen to quit the race.
“As former WHRTC Town Committee Chair(men), we firmly believe that it is time for you to concede the election of Nov. 3, 2021,” the letter said. We will quote no further.
The letter did lay bare the rift that has opened between different parts of the party. Cohen was not popular with some members of the party, long-timers who didn’t like his style or his directness. That directness, especially tackling the recent scandal with improprieties with CARES Act funds, gave Cohen the largest GOP vote count in more than three decades.
Marino, himself a former GOP chairman in Orange said the problem with the three former chairmen and Cohen is not policy, it’s personalities.
“The letter writers do not speak for all Republicans, nor should they be too concerned about Barry not being in line with their Republican ideas. History proves they are not winning ideals,” he said. “The WHRTC has not had a mayoral candidate come this close to winning in 32 years. They could have changed that, but personalities prevailed over politics.”
Cohen has indicated he is going to let the case play itself out to see if his concerns are of merit in the eyes of the court. A decision is hoped for before Dec. 5 as, under the charter, the new administration is sworn in on the first Sunday in December.