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Candidates Spar Over Rodgers' Independent Endorsement



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Candidates Spar Over Rodgers’ Independent Endorsement

By John Voket

Chris Lyddy, the endorsed Democratic candidate for the 106th District legislative seat, is taking his challenger Will Rodgers to task regarding the Republican’s recent acceptance of an endorsement from the Independent Party.

In an August 20 release from Mr Lyddy, the candidate referenced a previous article in The Newtown Bee, in which Mr Rodgers stated he will not seek solicitations nor submit to surveys issued by organizations that are qualifying candidates for possible endorsement.

The release from Mr Lyddy states: “Less than a week after telling The Newtown Bee he wasn’t seeking organizational endorsements, Will Rodgers has sought the support of The Independent Party. The memo goes on to state: “In the August 14th edition of The Bee, Rodgers responded to the AFL-CIO’s recent endorsement of Mr Lyddy by saying that endorsements from groups created a ‘perception of influence’ and that he would not be seeking any.” 

Mr Lyddy said the people of Newtown deserve representation whose actions match their words. 

“Will’s hypocritical flip-flop is troubling, as it directly contradicts his statement…as he most certainly had to seek and accept the group’s endorsement,” the release says. “Clearly the enticement of an additional ballot placement was too much for Will to pass up.” 

While Mr Lyddy states in the release that “getting on the Independent Party ballot required consent from Rodgers to appear on the ballot,” a letter to the editor submitted by Mr Rodgers on August 22 contradicts the Democratic candidate’s assertions.

In his letter, Mr Rodgers says that the Independent Party’s endorsement “was not the product of any solicitation on my part.

“The process began when I was called repeatedly by a party official,” Mr Rodgers’ letter states. “I neither made any promises nor answered any questions/surveys.”

Mr Rodgers further states that the Independent Party leadership reportedly based its endorsement on its perception of Mr Rodgers’ stance on issues “and favorable words from outgoing Rep Julia Wasserman, who has accepted the Independent Party’s endorsement in the past…”

The Registrars of Voters office confirmed Tuesday that in previous state legislative elections, Rep Wasserman has held a ballot position on the Republican line, as well as a second position on the Independent Party line, because of the minor party’s cross endorsement.

Mr Rodgers said he has promised not to solicit anybody, and will not “jump through any hoops to solicit endorsements.”

“It’s another thing for someone to come forward saying ‘we endorse you,’ and are seeking my acceptance of that endorsement,” Mr Rodgers said. “I think they can still endorse me and run me on the line. As far as I know, there’s no consent required on my part. The contact to inform me, I believe, was a courtesy.”

Mr Rodgers added that the Independent Party endorsement comes from a qualified minor political entity, not a traditional special interest group.

In a follow-up call, Mr Lyddy questioned where Mr Rodgers stands on the Independent Party’s issues.

“If he’s going to accept a political party’s endorsement, he has to justify that,” Mr Lyddy said. “The fact that the endorsement was given to him as a gift because [Rep] Wasserman previously received it is evidence of the kind of behind the scenes activities that have been going on for some time.

“Just because people call themselves independent doesn’t mean they don’t have an agenda,” Mr Lyddy continued. “I feel [Mr Rodgers’ endorsement] acceptance creates much more of a perception of influence. There has to be some sort of mutual agreement that one supports the other, and if that’s the case, come out and say that.”

In his letter, Mr Rodgers states his presumption that the Independent endorsement resulted from “an undeniable independent character that I believe the party found appealing.

“In short, the Independent Party’s decision was based on my record and reputation to date in the public arena,” Mr Rodgers says in his letter.

The Independent Party is not affiliated the Independent Party of Newtown, which currently holds qualified elected positions on the local Legislative Council and Police Commission. Mr Lyddy and Mr Rodgers are also members of the Newtown Legislative Council.

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