Sen. Matt Lesser entering the crowded field for secretary of the state. CTMIRROR.ORG

Eight days before the opening of the Democratic state convention, Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown made his expected entrance into the crowded race for the nomination to succeed Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

The last order of business on the second day of the two-day convention will be the endorsement of a nominee for secretary of the state, one of three statewide constitutional offices without an incumbent seeking reelection.

Lesser begins with the endorsements of the UAW, the State Building Trades and individual construction unions, including the Laborers, Operating Engineers and Carpenters.

He is competing with Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden, Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk and Maritza Bond of New Haven, all trying to become the first woman of color elected to the office, and Rep. Josh Elliott of Hamden.

If elected, Santiago or Bond would be the first Hispanic person to win any statewide office in Connecticut. Thomas would be the first Black woman elected as secretary of the state.

Democrats have not run an all-white statewide ticket since 1958. Gerald Lamb was elected treasurer in 1962, the first Black person to win statewide office. Until the advent of direct primaries, tickets were assembled at the convention.

“I think we’re going to be able to come with that to the voters in the fall with a strong, diverse ticket that reflects the values in the base of the Democratic Party,” Lesser said.

Erick Russell, Karen Dubois-Walton and Dita Bhargava are competing for the nomination to succeed Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who announced recently he was not seeking a second term.

Russell and Dubois-Walton are Black. Bhargava is Indian-American.

Rep. Sean Scanlon of Guilford is expected to be nominated without competition for comptroller. Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General William Tong are seeking second terms.

Santiago, Thomas and Bond have been raising money as declared candidates, while Lesser and Elliott have been doing so as exploratory candidates that give them flexibility in shifting races.

Elliott is simultaneously seeking the Democratic nomination for secretary of the state and his House seat, with the hope of running for reelection to the House in November should he not be the nominee for secretary of the state.

Lesser is committed to the statewide race, creating an open race for his seat in the 9th Senate District of Cromwell, Middletown, Newington, Rocky Hill and Wethersfield.

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.