Nathan Bass Dec. 7, 2012, 7:23pm

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -A Connecticut Supreme Court decision awarded the Republican Party the top line in the November election.

Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers wrote the Sept. 26 order interpreting the particular statute in question and all the remaining justices concurred.

"We conclude that § 9-249a is an ambiguous statute, and that the legislative history, genealogy, and public policy all support a construction requiring the party whose candidate for governor polled the highest number of votes on that party's line be given precedence on the ballot in the subsequent general election."

"Because the Republican Party's gubernatorial candidate received more votes on his party's line in the 2010 election than Governor Malloy received on either the Democratic Party or the Working Families Party lines, we hold that § 9-249a directs the defendant to place the Republican Party at the top of the ballot in the 2012 general election."

The pertinent part of General Statutes (Sup. 2012) § 9-249a provides:

(a) The names of the parties shall be arranged on the ballots in the following order:

(1) The party whose candidate for Governor polled the highest number
of votes in the last-preceding election;

(2) Other parties who had candidates for Governor in the last-preceding
election, in descending order, according to the number of votes polled for
each such candidate;

Democrat Dannel T. Malloy narrowly defeated Republican Tom Foley in the 2010 election for governor. However, Malloy only received 540,970 votes from Democratic voters to Foley's 560,874 Republican votes.

Governor Malloy won the election due to the fact that he received 26,308 additional votes from the Working Families Party.

In July of 2012, Jerry Labriola, Jr., the chairman of the state Republican Party, John McKinney, the Senate Republican leader, and Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr., the House of Representatives Republican leader, in their capacities as party leaders as well as candidates for state office, sent a letter to the defendant, Democrat Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill, in which they pointed out the 2010 vote totals.

"The Republicans contended that, under § 9-249a, the Republican Party should have been listed first on the ballots in the 2011 election and it should be listed first on the ballots in the 2012 election because Foley had ''polled the highest number of votes in the last-preceding election'' for the office of governor on the Republican Party line."

On July 27, Merrill responded to the letter by explaining that the reason the Democratic Candidates were on the top of the ballot in 2011 and would be again in 2012 is that, "Governor Malloy was a candidate of only a single 'party' on the ballot in 2010, that of the Democratic Party."

Merrill continued, "Ballot access by Governor Malloy on the Working Families Party line was achieved by nominating petition with 'party designation' in 2010."

The Republican Party then brought an action for declaratory and injunctive relief seeking a determination that the statute required Merrill to place the candidates of the Republican Party on the first line of the ballots for the November 6 election.

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