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Connecticut Republican drops out of congressional race on primary day after arrest

A Republican running for Congress in Connecticut dropped out of the race Tuesday — hours before polls opened for the state’s primary — after he was arrested over a violent encounter with an ex-girlfriend.

Thomas Gilmer, the GOP’s endorsed candidate, was arrested late Monday night, according to a statement from Wethersfield Police. He was charged with first-degree unlawful restraint and second-degree strangulation and released after posting a $5,000 bond.

Authorities were first contacted July 22 regarding a possible domestic assault and subsequently opened an investigation. The Hartford Courant reported Tuesday that the charges against Gilmer allegedly stem from a violent altercation with a former girlfriend.

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Gilmer released a statement to the Courant saying he was bowing out of the race because he found himself “in a position where I must put my family and our shared Republican values before my own interests.”

“I cannot in good conscience move forward in this campaign while I am simultaneously forced to clear my name. And clear my name I will,” he added.

Gilmer was running for the 2nd Congressional District, which has been held by Rep. Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyRep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 Connecticut Democrat diagnosed with COVID-19 What we need to do next to defeat COVID and unify the country MORE (D) since 2007 and is considered a solid Democratic seat.

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“While I must withdraw my name from the ballot at this time, I trust that our fight against Joe Courtney’s radical agenda will live on in each one of you,’' Gilmer said. “But ultimately, our movement — built on the tenets of good, old-fashioned Yankee conservatism — is too important to be sidetracked by the allegations facing me — allegations which I intend to fight."

Gilmer’s primary opponent, Justin Anderson, reportedly notified Connecticut GOP Chairman J.R. Romano in the spring that there was video of the alleged fight between Gilmer and his ex-girlfriend.

“When you see domestic abuse, you can’t ignore it," Anderson said.

Romano said he encouraged Anderson to contact the police and recommended that the victim meet with a domestic violence counselor.

“When someone came to us with allegations, we encouraged them to go to the authorities,” Romano said Tuesday, according to the Courant.

However, Romano faced criticism for not acting on the allegations against Gilmer earlier.

“Instead of investigating the issues over the last three months, party leaders participated in cajoling, victim-shaming, and shunning Mr. Anderson, questioning his integrity,’' Anderson’s campaign said in a statement to Republican Town Committee members. “It was Justin’s goal to deal with the allegations privately among leaders to protect the victim, however party leaders brought this out publicly to discredit Mr. Anderson.’'

Gabe Rosenberg, spokesman for the Connecticut Secretary of the State, told the newspaper that election officials had not received a formal notice of Gilmer’s exit from the race.

“He’s going to be on the ballot all day today,’' Rosenberg said. “It’s too late to remove him on the ballot.”

It is unclear what will happen if Gilmer wins the primary.

The party could renominate a candidate if he formally drops out. However, unless he officially notifies the secretary of State’s office, Gilmer will remain on the November ballot if he's victorious Tuesday.