Connecticut Congressional candidate quits race following domestic violence arrest

A Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut dropped out of the race Tuesday as voters were going to the polls in his primary election following his arrest in an assault case.

Thomas Gilmer, the party-endorsed candidate, was arrested Monday night on charges of first-degree unlawful restraint and second-degree strangulation. He posted a $5,000 bond. The charges stem from a May 2017 attack on a former girlfriend and July 22 interview with the victim, according to Wethersfield police.

“I cannot in good conscience move forward in this campaign while I am simultaneously forced to clear my name. And clear my name I will,” Gilmer said in a statement.

Phone calls and emails seeking comment were made to Gilmer by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Gilmer was arraigned Tuesday and is due back in court Sept. 23. He is not allowed to contact the victim.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, police have a video of the incident that was provided by Gilmer’s Republican opponent, Justin Anderson. It shows Gilmer “punch the victim in the face and jump on top of her as she falls to the ground. Gilmer then attempts to choke the victim followed by multiple closed fist punches to the victim’s face,” according to the report.

He then places her in a chokehold and she appears to be “struggling for her life,” according to the affidavit.

Gilmer, 29, of Madison, had received the party’s endorsement in the race. With voting already underway, his name could not be removed from ballots, and many already have been cast in an election where huge numbers are voting by absentee ballot amid the coronavirus.

If Gilmer wins after formally withdrawing, the Republican Party will be able to nominate someone to take his place in the general election, according to Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for the Connecticut Secretary of the State. Votes were still being tallied late Tuesday.

The ultimate Republican candidate will face U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat who is favored to win reelection, to represent a district spanning eastern Connecticut.

Anderson, of East Haddam, is a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut Army National Guard who served two combat tours in Afghanistan. On Sunday, he called for Gilmer to drop out of the race, saying he had evidence that the endorsed candidate was involved in domestic abuse. Anderson said the victim had reached out to him in April with the video evidence.

“Instead of investigating the issues over the last 3 months, party leaders participated in cajoling, victim shaming and shunning Mr. Anderson, questioning his integrity,” Anderson’s campaign said in a statement. “It was Justin’s goal to deal with the allegations privately among leaders to protect the victim, however, party leaders brought this out publicly to discredit Mr. Anderson for standing up and bringing this to attention.”

J.R. Romano, the state Republican Party chairman, acknowledged that he was aware of Anderson’s allegations.

“I have a primary challenger, they are running against each other, who comes to me with an allegation. I said, ‘Bring it to the proper authorities to investigate,’” Romano said.

He said it would be up to the state central committee to come up with a candidate should Gilmer win.


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