- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Mary Fay, a financial services executive and member of the West Hartford Town Council, has won a Republican congressional primary and will face Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson in November’s general election.

Fay billed herself as a moderate who is best-suited to defeat Larson and won the party’s endorsement despite being a latecomer to the race. The primary election was held on Tuesday but results have been held up by the counting of large numbers of absentee ballots.

Larson was Fay’s high school basketball coach in East Hartford. While the two are friendly, Fay says it’s time for change. Larson has represented the central Connecticut district that includes Hartford since 1998.

“The people deserve somebody who is hungry for the job,” Fay said Friday. “I am going to fight and charge after him and campaign positively.”

Fay noted Hartford is one of the poorest cities in the country.

“Even before COVID, we’ve never recovered from the depression of 2008. Our economy is stalling. Companies are leaving,” she said. “His policies aren’t working or whatever he’s doing or not doing.”

Larson extended congratulations to his opponent.

“I want to congratulate Mary Fay for winning the Republican primary and I look forward to having a meaningful exchange on the issues this campaign,” Larson said in a statement provided by his campaign.

Fay defeated James Griffin, a West Point graduate who worked on military and budget issues during a career in Washington. Griffin, of Bristol, had a more conservative, anti-socialist message during the primary. He left the Democratic Party to become a Republican in 2017.

The only other congressional primary in Connecticut, between Republicans Thomas Gilmer and Justin Anderson in the 2nd Congressional District, remained so close that a recount will be required to determine a winner, Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said Friday.

Gilmer, the party-endorsed candidate, said on the morning of the primary that he would drop out of the race following his arrest on domestic violence charges, after many voters already had cast ballots by absentee. He has not yet officially withdrawn his candidacy, the Secretary of the State’s office said.

Unofficial numbers released Friday by the Secretary of the State’s office show that more than 64% of Democrats and just under 43% of Republicans who voted in Tuesday’s presidential primary used absentee ballots. With 166 of 169 towns reporting, turnout was 29.77% of eligible Democrats and 20.23% of eligible Republicans.

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