McMAHON, FOLEY; MALLOY-WYMAN, MERRILL, ALL WIN PARTY ENDORSEMENTS—PRIMARIES TO REALLY DECIDE

The pomp, circumstance, nominating speeches, roll call votes and finally endorsements are done as both the Republicans and the Democrats wrapped up their nominating conventions but just who ends on the ballots in November will largely be decided in primaries in August.

Republicans last night chose former wrestling tycoon Linda for US Senate but her chief rival former Congressman Rob Simmons promised to wage a primary. Simmons got some new attention this week for his service in Vietnam when Democratic nominee Richard Blumenthal was accused of embellishing his own military service, saying at several appearances over the years that he served in Vietnam when in fact he was stateside.

Also getting the nod from his fellow Republicans on a close, first ballot was gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, the millionaire former ambassador to Ireland who has been leading in the polls. Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele and economic development executive Oz Griebel both got enough delegates (15%) to force a primary.

Things went much smoother than expected at the Expo Center in Hartford where Democrats gathered. Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman won their endorsement for governor and lt. governor, respectively, but rivals millionaire businessman Ned Lamont and Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman immediately said there would be a primary.

Things got interesting today in the race for secretary of state in which three candidates emerged with enough delegates for a primary this summer. Denise Merrill won the endorsement on the second ballot. Both Jonathan Harris and Gerry Garcia each got the required 15%. Having secured the 15% on the first ballot to qualify him for the next step, Garcia made an unusual move by taking to the stage, withdrawing his name and asking that his supporters switch to Harris. Merrill still won.

Republican Jeff Wright, the mayor of Newington got the endorsement for treasurer and will face Democratic incumbent Denise Nappier in November. Republicans also picked Jerry Ferrell, Jr. as their candidate for secretary of the state.

And in November, Republican Jack Orchulli will go up against Democrat Kevin Lembo for comptroller, the office being vacated by Wyman.

Politicos are left with the question (as they have in recent years) of whether the conventions are necessary. Any seriously contested seat in either party is still contested when the conventions are over. It’s the primaries that determine who is on the ballot in November. Some say the camaraderie and gathering to see delegates and supporters are all important. Others say the money could be saved and it could all just move to a primary.