Sen. Matt Lesser addressing the Democratic convention in Hartford. Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Sen. Matt Lesser of Middletown said Tuesday he will seek reelection to the state Senate rather than pursue the Democratic nomination for secretary of the state in a primary against the convention winner, Rep. Stephanie Thomas of Norwalk.

Lesser finished second among the five candidates for secretary of the state at the Democratic State Convention on Saturday, one of three who cleared the 15% threshold to automatically qualify for a primary in August.

Thomas, a first-term lawmaker elected in 2020 to what had been a Republican seat in a district covering portions of Norwalk, Westport and Wilton, capitalized on solid backing from Fairfield County, plus a desire for gender diversity.

“The defining issue of the convention was, ‘Do we need more gender diversity?’ I had no answer for that, because we do,” Lesser said. “It was a very real concern of a lot of delegates.”

Democrats endorsed a statewide ticket with five men and two women, including three men and one woman seeking reelection: U.S. Senate Richard Blumenthal, Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General William Tong.

Rep. Sean Scanlon was unopposed for comptroller, while Erick Russell and Thomas had floor flights for treasurer and secretary of the state. 

Russell faces a primary from two women, Dita Bhargava of Greenwich and Karen Dubois-Walton of New Haven.

Three of the four Democrats who competed with Thomas for secretary of the state qualified for a primary: Lesser, Rep. Hilda Santiago of Meriden and Maritza Bond of New Haven.

Santiago could not be reached for comment, but Democrats say she is seriously considering seeking reelection to the House instead of a statewide primary. The nominating convention for her seat is next week.

Lesser faced a tighter deadline: The nominating convention for the 9th Senate District he represents is Tuesday night.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

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.