GOP candidate Rick Torres of Bridgeport said his opponent Republican Rob Merkle should be prohibited from running for Congress.
Torres said Merkle's voting record, or lack thereof, means he doesn't deserve to hold elected office. He maintains that Merkle has only voted twice in his life. Torres also said he plans to alert his supporters to this news later in the week.
Both Torres and Merkle are seeking the Republican nomination to run against Democratic Congressman Jim Himes in November. Dan Debicella, who is also running, couldn't be reached for comment.
According to the Norwalk Registrar of Voters, Merkle registered October 25, 2008, just before the presidential election. Records also indicated that Merkle voted in municipal elections in 2009. But that doesn't tell the whole story, said Stuart Wells, Norwalk's Democratic Registrar.
"Sometimes earlier records aren't in the computer system and if someone moved around their voting records can be lost," Wells said, adding that just because it's not on the computer doesn't mean a registered voter didn't previously vote. Typical voter records go back about 10 years.
In addition, Merkle lived in Florida between 1998 and 2002. According to the Secretary of State's office in Tallahassee, Florida, he registered to vote in February 25, 2001. However, there is no record of Merkle having voted.
Still, Torres said the lack of involvement is a red flag.
"I think that is a disqualification notice as far as I'm concerned," said Torres. "I'm almost 51 and since I was 18 I've not missed a vote except three times. Those who don't vote are basically thumbing their noses at this country."
Torres said he was out of the country on one occasion and out of state on the other two. He didn't get an absentee ballot.
Merkle makes no apologies for his record.
"Rick Torres can't approach me on my issues, so he is attacking me personally," Merkle said.
Merkle said he moved to New Canaan in 1992. In 1998 he moved to Florida before returning to Connecticut in 2002. He then moved to Georgia for a year and came back to Connecticut in 2004 at which time he was setting up his business, and, by his own admission, "was not every engaged" in politics.
Then came the 2006 race between Republican Christopher Shays versus Democratic Diane Farrell, which "as far as I'm concerned were both liberals. Then in 2008 I became re-engaged like the rest of the nation and registered."
"He doesn't have all the facts," Merkle said of his opponent. "He's a spoiler and he's angry."