Jonathan Pelto.
Jonathan Pelto. CT Mirror file photo

In conceding he almost certainly would fall short of the 7,500 signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot for governor, Jonathan Pelto said Monday his campaign had submitted only about 4,000 signatures.

“I think it was in the range of 4,000 that we put in centrally,” Pelto said, adding that he was relying on an ad hoc network of loosely organized volunteers to independently submit the rest. “There was a rump group out there.”

Pelto, a former Democratic legislator, said he heard from a couple hundred people who told him they had taken out petitions, giving him hope the would double the number collected by his campaign.

“Now, I am thinking that was over optimistic,” he said.

Pelto said he believes that local officials – the petitions are checked by town clerks and tallied by the secretary of the state’s office – had invalidated hundreds of signatures, some improperly and some for cause.

For example, Pelto was aware of petition sheets with voters from West Hartford and Wethersfield being mistakenly submitted to the clerk in West Hartford. All the West Hartford signatures were accepted, but the Wethersfield ones were not.

“It was clearly a mistake” by his campaign, he said.

Pelto said other signatures were invalidated by local officials misreading state law, but even if they were allowed, he believes he still would fall short.

The secretary of the state’s office is expected to announce Pelto’s tally later this week. Local officials had to finish checking signatures on Aug. 20, then they mailed the petition sheets to the secretary of the state.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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