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Republicans went to the polls on Sept. 12 to select their first selectman candidate. (Photo by Zoe Roos/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Ken MacKenzie has won the Republican primary. After a contentious party caucus and weeks of heated campaigning, Republicans officially have their party nominee for first selectman. MacKenzie defeated Bob Hartmann Jr., taking in 733 votes to Hartmanns 295 votes.
On Tuesday, Sept. 12, registered Republicans went to the polls to choose between candidates Hartmann and MacKenzie. Only 3,496 residents were eligible to vote in this primary, making the total voter turnout 29.4 percent.
The primary became a reality after Hartmann won the Republican Town Committee caucus nomination by a slim margin back in July. MacKenzie then collected the necessary number of signatures from registered voters to force a primary.
MacKenzie said he was delighted and thrilled by the primary results and said he wants to thank his family, campaign volunteers, and those who voted for him for their support.
"It was a tough campaign and I am stunned by the results," he said. "I am very happy and very thankful."
Looking at the margin of victory, MacKenzie said he is still trying to digest the magnitude, but said the numbers represent a powerful signal.
"It is really great that it wasnt close because it creates a significant amount of momentum moving into the November election," he said. "We have done a lot of campaigning and now we have a lot of momentum and a lot of support and the fact that it was so overwhelming in terms of the number makes me quite confident that we will be able to garner a lot of support moving on. The next six weeks I am going to focus on unaffiliated voters and registered democrats as well."
Hartmann, who was the RTC nominee for the ticket, said he had reached out to MacKenzie and congratulated him on his campaign.
"We both agreed that neither of us expected the numbers to turn out as they did," he said. "I told him that we ran an honest, open, transparent, high-minded campaign in which we told the truth and I was very proud of our campaign."
Hartmann said he wanted to thank his family and campaign volunteers but said he was surprised by how few votes came his way. While Hartmann said maybe it was a matter of people thinking they did not need to get out and vote, he said the campaign leading to the primary made its mark on a fair number of voters.
"I think it is a dangerous thing to promise our voters a tax decrease and no loss of service but it is also reckless in this environment with the state breathing down our necks," he said. "We were hoping for a little more common sense and we absolutely miscalculated."
The campaign itself was the subject of much debate, with some residents seeing it as typical politics and others regarding some of the comments and strategies as overly nasty. Whatever the impression, First Selectman Joe Mazza, who backed Hartmann, said this primary has wounded Republicans.
"In my opinion it was a campaign that really divided the party and it is going to be very hard on the party to unite before Election Day," he said.
MacKenzie faces Democratic first selectman candidate Matt Hoey later this fall. Following MacKenzies primary victory, Hoey released a statement on Facebook.
"Congratulations to Ken MacKenzie on his primary victory last night," the post read. "I look forward to a spirited and substantive campaign with him between now and November about the future of this community."
On late Thursday, Sept. 14, RTC Chair Gloria Nemczuk issued a press release announcing that all RTC candidates would be marching in the Guilford Fair Parade this Saturday, Sept. 16.
"After a spirited primary for the seat of First Selectman, the Guilford Republic Town Committee is excited to rally behind theendorsedBoard of Selectmen slate of MacKenzie, Havrda and Renner.We look forward to introducing them at ournextpublic event this Saturday morning at the Guilford Fair Day Parade, which steps off promptly at 10am."
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