If Brian K. Hill is to crash the party at this Friday’s state Republican convention, the U.S. Senate hopeful will have to garner at least 10 percent of the delegates during the first round of voting to make it onto the second ballot.
Hill is protesting the threshold, which he says is part of a rule change by the GOP apparatus that seeks to marginalize lesser-known candidates of his ilk.
“It serves no purpose and it calls into question the credibility of the process,” Hill told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers Monday.
The Windsor native and former Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer favors eliminating the candidate who receives the fewest delegates during each round of voting, as he said has been done in the past.
Hill is one of five Republicans seeking the party’s endorsement for Senate.
The others are Linda McMahon, Christopher Shays, Peter Lumaj and Kie Westby.
Hill would rather do away with the entire convention process to begin with and go straight to the Republican primary, which is scheduled for Aug. 14.
“I don’t believe that we should even have this convention process,” Hill said. ” It should be up to the voters to dertermine who they want, not a select group of delegates.”
Party officials defended the convention rules, saying that it is extremely rare that there is a second ballot in the first place and that there are other mechanisms for candidates to qualify for a primary.
“At some point you have to coalesce. The point of a convention is to coalesce and it’s not to go to endless ballots,” said Jerry Farrell Jr., the convention rules committee chairman.
A candidate must capture 50.1 percent of the delegates to win the party’s endorsement on the first ballot.
“It’s only if no candidate gets 50.1 does it go to a second ballot,” Farrell said. “It could be very moot, but, then again, none of us has a crystal ball to say how it comes out. Things do and should jell at some point.”
Hill cited the 1990 campaign of Republican Gary Franks, who finished last on the first ballot, but became the Republican nominee for the 5th Congressional District at the time. Franks won that election.
State GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. echoed Farrell.
“A statewide Republican convention has not gone to a second ballot in over 40 years, maybe longer,” Labriola said. “So most likely Brian will need 15 percent in the first ballot in order to qualify to primary.”
If Hill fails to reach the 15 percent threshold, he would have to petition his way onto the primary ballot by collecting signatures from 2 percent of registered Republicans statewide.
“Brian has made a positive impression on our delegates and has a good future in the Republican Party,” Labriola said.