State Rep. James F. Spallone of Essex decided against a campaign for secretary of the state, endorsing fellow Democrat Denise W. Merrill of Mansfield, the state House of Representatives’ majority leader.

Spallone, who has visited dozens of Democratic town committees since launching his exploratory effort 14 months ago, said ‘the response has been positive.”

But the Essex lawmaker, who is co-chairman of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee, said repairing Connecticut’s campaign finance statutes in response to an adverse federal court ruling demands his full attention. “This is simply not the right time for me to wage a statewide campaign.”

The five-term lawmaker, who has a private law practice, said Merrill is the best choice to become Connecticut’s top elections official.

“Denise’s commitment to good government and expanding our democracy predates her service in the legislature,” he said. ‘She has been a stalwart supporter of campaign finance reform and other critical measures.”

“Jamie Spallone has been a gracious and worthy adversary on the campaign trail and I respect his record in public office and his passion for the issues,” Merrill said.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, a Middletown Democrat, has opted not to seek a third term in that office, and is running for attorney general.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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