Over the course of two frigid nights in January, hundreds of registered Republicans showed up to the Republican Town Committee caucuses held at locations across town.
Many of the existing RTC members were taken off guard at how many newcomers showed up, put their names forward as candidates, and participated in the vote.
By the time the dust settled, 21 incumbents lost their seats.
The first night of caucuses, 115 Republican voters turned out in district 11, about 100 more than the previous caucus. After the votes were counted, incumbents Nisha Arora and Tom Michaud lost their seats and several newcomers were installed.
On the second night of caucuses more party stalwarts lost their membership in the RTC, including Steve Walko (district 10), Carl Carlson (district 1), Paul Cappiali (district 4), Rick Cappoza (district 4), RTC Treasurer John McShea (district 6), and Kim Salib (district 11).
In district 8 there was a shake up after incumbent Mike Mason, a longtime BET and RTM member, lost his spot along with district 8 chair Linda Moshier, and Irene Dietrich, Phil Dodson and Randy Caravella.
In district 1, RTC chair Dan Quigley barely held onto his seat. He came in 5th (last) in a tie, but won in a runoff later that night against newcomer Joe Barillo.
RTM member Carl Higbie opined that the high turnout of first time caucus goers was something of a referendum on Dan Quigley’s leadership of the RTC.
But, with Quigley having managed to hang on in January, there was unfinished business for the new group in power.
Five Republicans in district 1 circulated petitions that triggered a primary that was held on March 1: Carl Carlson, Marla Weston, Bill Lewis, Joe Barillo and Lihong Zhang, each having secured 50 signatures from registered Republicans in the district. (Only the first two people to petition, Carl Carlson and Bill Lewis, triggered the primary. Ironically, they did not win.)
Tuesday’s primary included the five petitioners, plus the five who won seats back in January: Christina Vanderlip, Cheryl Resnick, Frederick Lee, Russell “Trey” Reynolds and Dan Quigley.
According to an email from the RTC Tuesday night, turnout in the primary was 26.41%. Ballots were hand-counted by a four-person set of Republican poll workers in front of observers.
Quigley lost in the primary, along with Fred Lee, both incumbents who had won in the January caucuses.
The top 5 names listed are the winners of Tuesday’s RTC primary in district 1:
137 – Cheryl Resnick
128 – Russell “Trey” Reynolds
124 – Christina Vanderlip
122 – Joseph Borelli
110 – Marla M. Weston
87 – Carl G.R. Carlson
87 – Frederick Lee
84 – Daniel Quigley
81 – Lihong Zhang
78 – William B. Lewis, Jr.
On Wednesday morning Quigley said he wished the new members good luck.
“I look forward to remaining engaged with our community on many levels going forward,” he added.
While his words were brief, two weeks ago he sat for an interview where he said the RTC had been vulnerable, likening the takeover to the time in 2017 when a group of women swept RTM elections, pushing out many popular incumbents.
And, he said, “It’s easier to get people motivated if you misinform them that there’s something bad going on. I think the group who took over the RTC used a lot of disinformation.”
Quigley said the group who will take the helm of the RTC were at a fork in the road. “The challenge is how right can they go without turning off voters in Greenwich?”
“They’re going to face reality, which is that Republicans in Greenwich are the now minority party, and it’s not because we don’t nominate conservative candidates,” Quigley added. “It’s because Republicans are moderate here.”
In their daily e-blast Wednesday morning, Greenwich Patriots wrote, “It’s still a couple weeks away from the official day when the new members take the helm of the RTC, but we are eager to hear what’s in store — their strategy, mission and principles will hopefully reflect the intoxicating energy coming from the new members, and their traditional conservative principles and values. We can’t wait to learn more!”
New RTC officers and chair will be elected at the March 23, 2022 meeting.
Note: This story has been updated to indicate that the RTC District 1 primary was triggered only by the first two of the five candidates to petition. Ironically, they did not win.