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A federal appeals court on Friday overturned a ruling that had opened up next month’s primary election in Connecticut to virtually any registered voter who wished to run for office. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 3-0 that Connecticut could proceed with its September election under a 1955 state law that requires primary candidates to get support from 15 percent of the party delegates in their district. A federal judge had ruled last month that the law was unfair to people who wanted to challenge incumbents. Senior U.S. District Judge Peter Dorsey of the District of Connecticut then stunned state officials by amending the ruling last week to say a challenger need only be a registered member of a political party and provide his or her home address on a form to qualify for a spot in the Sept. 10 primary. The state argued that opening up the primary system so close to the election would cause chaos. The appeals court agreed. “The balance of hardship is overwhelmingly in favor of the defendant state,” the court said in its decision. Democrat Bill Curry and GOP Gov. John Rowland were the only candidates in the gubernatorial race until last week, meaning there was no need for a primary. But after the judge’s ruling, several people — including an unemployed construction worker and a newspaper columnist — filed to challenge both men. The case was brought by a group of people who said the 1955 law kept them from challenging incumbents. The plaintiffs are considering whether to appeal Friday’s ruling, said Elizabeth Daniel, a lawyer for Brennan Center for Justice, which brought the lawsuit. Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said after the ruling that only people who had qualified for a primary under the old law will be on the ballot this year. That means there will not be a statewide primary this year and only a handful of local primaries. The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the original lawsuit, but the judges noted that the political parties have rules that mirror the state law. They questioned whether finding the state law unconstitutional would necessarily invalidate those party rules. The lawsuit now returns to U.S. District Court for trial. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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