Shawn Wooden accepting the endorsement for treasurer. mark pazniokas /
Shawn Wooden accepting the endorsement for treasurer. mark pazniokas /

Former Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden won the Democratic endorsement for state treasurer Saturday, but will face off in a primary with fellow Hartford lawyer Arunan Arulampalam and former Wall Street trader Dita Bhargava of Greenwich.

Wooden won the endorsement on the second ballot with 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Arulampalam. Bhargava qualified for a primary on the first ballot, then withdrew to allow the delegates to make an endorsement on the second ballot.

“I am truly humbled by your support,” Wooden said. “Today you have made a statement. You have said that experience matters and values count.”

Dita Bhargava addresses the convention. mark pazniokas /

“As I stand on this stage, I can’t help but think about how unlikely my own journey has been,” said Wooden, who grew up just a few miles from the Hartford Convention Center, the youngest of six children. “After all, the odds of a kid from the North End of Hartford ending up in a casket are far greater than the odds of a kid standing on a stage like this on a night like this.”

“He will lead us with sound, smart, strategic financial experience in his head, with strong democratic values in his heart,” said John W. Olsen, a former state chairman who delivered one of the nominating speeches. “Those of you who know me know that I always give it to you straight, so here it is, as a friend of Shawn’s, someone who knows the type of experience he has with finances, I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is by far the most qualified candidate for state treasurer.”

Both Arulampalam and Bhargava secured their places in a primary by taking 32 percent and 21 percent of the first-ballot delegate vote, respectively — easily clearing the 15-percent threshold.

Arunan Arulampalam talks to delegates on the convention floor. Clarice Silber /

Greenwich Democrat John Blankley, former chief financial officer of BP North America, also had sought the nomination, but received just under 5 percent of the delegate vote on the first ballot.

“I feel very good, we’ve got a lot of momentum,” Arulampalam, a lawyer at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy who advises financial institutions on debt and equity issues, said after securing his place in the primary. “We’re surging.”

“I am just so much more in love with our state at this point,” said Bhargava, who addressed the convention after locking in her spot in the primary on the first ballot. “This is a year for diversity, for women. If there’s ever a year, this is it.”

Five-term incumbent Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, a Hartford Democrat, is not seeking re-election.

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.

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.

Clarice Silber was a General Assignment Reporter at CT Mirror. She formerly worked for The Associated Press in Phoenix as a legislative and general assignment reporter. In 2016, she conducted extensive interviews and research in Portuguese and Spanish for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at McClatchy, which was the only U.S. newspaper to gain initial access to the Panama Papers. She is a Rio de Janeiro native and graduated from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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