Early this summer, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that she would not be running for reelection in 2022. The announcement set off a flurry of speculation about who would throw their hat into the ring to potentially succeed her. Now, as summer gives way to fall, a field of candidates is starting to emerge.
Four Democratic candidates have taken steps toward running for the position, including:
- State Sen. Matt Lesser, D-9, the current Senate chair of the Insurance & Real Estate Committee, formed an exploratory committee for statewide office on Aug.23. This is Lesser’s second time exploring a run for secretary of the state. He considered running for the office in 2018, but he bowed out once Merrill announced that she would be running for reelection.
- Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-84, formed an exploratory committee just days after Sen. Lesser, and she is expected to be a formidable candidate in the race. She has served in the state Legislature representing Meriden since 2013, and currently, she is the assistant deputy speaker pro-tempore.
- Rep. Josh Elliot, D-88, was the first candidate to enter the race, when he filed his exploratory committee paperwork in June. Elliot has built a reputation at the Capitol as a staunch progressive, and he has favored policies such as ranked-choice voting in the past. Currently, he serves as the state House chair of the Higher Education Committee.
- New Haven Alderman Darryl Brackeen entered the race in July. Brackeen has served on New Haven’s board of alders for five terms, and briefly explored running for a seat in the Connecticut General Assembly in 2018. Brackeen has been endorsed by New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, and New Haven State Rep. Robyn Porter, D-94.
Two Republican candidates have emerged thus far:
- Brock Weber is a resident of New Britain, and he is a seasoned political operative with experience running state and local campaigns under his belt. Currently, he serves as an aide to New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, and he has served as an aide to the Connecticut Senate Republican caucus, as well.
- Dominic Rapini is a businessman with over 30 years of experience, 25 of which have been spent working for Apple Inc., in its consumer electronics division. He threw his hat into the ring for his party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018, but he was defeated by restaurant owner Matthew Corey.
James Woulfe, Esq.
James Woulfe, Esq., is the director of Government Affairs, The Connecticut Group LLC. He is PIACT’s lobbyist. James joined The Connecticut Group in November 2016. In 2013-14, while attending law school in the evenings, James worked at a Hartford-based nonprofit and led a successful grassroots campaign to drive passage of Connecticut’s benefit corporation statute. In 2015, he was appointed by then-House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz to the Commission on Connecticut’s Leadership in Corporation and Business Law, where he drafted a comprehensive plan to make Connecticut a national leader in the social enterprise sector. In 2020, he was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont to the board of the Metropolitan District Commission. The MDC provides quality water supply, water pollution control, mapping, and household hazardous waste collection to eight member municipalities. In 2021, he was appointed by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin to serve on the board of the Hartford Housing Authority. James received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009, and his Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2015.