Congressional candidate quits race following arrest on strangulation charge

A Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut dropped out of the race Tuesday as voters were going to the polls in his primary election following his arrest in an assault case.

Thomas Gilmer, the party-endorsed candidate, was arrested Monday night on charges of first-degree unlawful restraint and second-degree strangulation. He posted a $5,000 bond. The charges stem from a July 22, 2020 incident in Wethersfield, police said.

“I cannot in good conscience move forward in this campaign while I am simultaneously forced to clear my name. And clear my name I will,” Gilmer said in a statement obtained by The Hartford Courant.

Phone calls and emails seeking comment were made to Gilmer by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Gilmer, 29, of Madison, had received the party’s endorsement in the race. With voting already underway, his name could not be removed from ballots, and many already have been cast in an election where huge numbers are voting by absentee ballot amid the coronavirus.

If Gilmer wins after formally withdrawing, the Republican Party will be able to nominate someone to take his place in the general election, according to Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for the Connecticut Secretary of the State.

Gilmer’s opponent is Justin Anderson, of East Haddam, a lieutenant colonel in the Connecticut Army National Guard who served two combat tours in Afghanistan. The winner of the race in November will face U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, a Democrat who is favored to win reelection, to represent a district spanning eastern Connecticut.

Anderson on Sunday called for Gilmer to drop out of the race, saying he had evidence that the endorsed candidate was involved in domestic abuse. Anderson said the victim had reached out to him in April with video evidence.

“Instead of investigating the issues over the last 3 months, party leaders participated in cajoling, victim shaming and shunning Mr. Anderson, questioning his integrity,” Anderson’s campaign said in a statement. “It was Justin’s goal to deal with the allegations privately among leaders to protect the victim, however, party leaders brought this out publicly to discredit Mr. Anderson for standing up and bringing this to attention.”

J.R. Romano, the state Republican Party chairman, acknowledged that he was aware of Anderson’s allegations.

“I have a primary challenger, they are running against each other, who comes to me with an allegation. I said, ‘Bring it to the proper authorities to investigate,’” Romano said.

He said it would be up to the state central committee to come up with a candidate should Gilmer win.

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