Giannattasio wins Republican backing to run for state Senate

Anthony Giannattasio, minority leader on Milford’s Board of Aldermen, won the Republican endorsement this week to run for the 14th District state Senate seat, currently held by Democrat Gayle Slossberg.

Giannattasio defeated state Rep. Pam Staneski and Michele Gregorio in a three-way bid for the party’s backing at Monday night’s 14th District Republican convention. Staneski said she will definitely wage a primary, and Gregorio said she intends to file paperwork for a primary but that ultimately the decision will depend on whether she can raise the funds.

Giannattasio’s win was a surprise for the Staneski supporters, who thought she, a two-term state representative who had beaten then-incumbent James Maroney for the 119th District seat in 2014, was a natural to win the party’s backing to run for the state Senate seat.

Vincent Marino and Dan Spicer, in nominating her, said this is an important year for Republicans in Hartford and Staneski represented the best chance to take back the 14th District seat.

“Our chances to win are now,” Spicer said.

Slossberg announced earlier that she will not seek re-election in November, and the Democrats are expected to endorse Maroney to run for the seat at a convention next week.

Spicer said Staneski beat Maroney once before and she can do it again.

However, the speakers at Monday night’s convention said all three candidates were worthy of being state senator.

Dave Rodriguez nominated Giannattasio for the seat, and Barry Cohen nominated Gregorio.

Speaking for Giannattasio, Rodriguez said, “This is a big moment in a big election,” and he said Giannattasio can bring the GOP message to Hartford.

When he announced his run for the seat last month, Giannattasio talked about solving financial issues that affect city and town budgets within the 14th District: He said, “While serving on the Board of Alderman, I have seen firsthand how the lack of state funding is affecting educational costs and local government. I am ready to work to develop a responsible financial plan to move Connecticut forward.”

Cohen cited Gregorio’s business experience in nominating her, and said she will do more than talk in Hartford. “She will listen to us,” he said.

There were two convention votes at the Orange Community Center Monday night. The first saw Staneski in the lead with 12 votes, Giannattasio with 8 and Gregorio with 5. With 25 delegates casting votes, the contender needed 13 votes to win, so a second vote was called, this time without Gregorio because she didn’t receive the necessary percentage of votes in the first round.

The second vote saw Gregorio’s backers from West Haven side with Giannattasio, leading to a 13-to-12 win for Giannattasio.

The district includes Milford, Orange and parts of West Haven and Woodbridge.