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Election 2012: Landry Running Against Becker but Not Campaigning for 19th House District

West Hartford residents in the 19th House District have a choice between placeholder Republican candidate Jon Landry or state Rep. Brian Becker, D-19, on the Nov. 6 ballot.

State Rep. Brian Becker has an opponent in the 19th House District race, but that candidate has maintained his position as just a placeholder and has not been actively campaigning or fundraising.

The Republican candidate running against incumbent Becker, D-19th, in the Nov. 6 election is exempt from having a campaign committee, according to a candidate registration form he filed with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Jon Landry, 37, who serves on the Farmington Board of Education and was previously a member of his town's Zoning Board of Appeals, said that he was nominated as a placeholder candidate to avoid losing his party's slot. Farmington Republican Town Committee Chairman Bill Mastrogiovanni had recommended him, Landry said.

“What that means is I was nominated back at the caucus simply because if we did not have a nomination at that time, the seat would be open and nobody could be put on ballot at that time,” Landry said.

When the West Hartford Republican Town Committee, responsible for nominating a 19th District candidate, failed to find someone to replace Landry in the race against Becker, Landry chose to stay on the ballot. The district includes parts of Avon, Farmington and West Hartford.

"Nobody stepped up and wanted to run, but I decided to leave my name on the ballot in order to give the voters a choice," he said. “I had no intention of running a campaign.”

When asked if he would serve if elected, he said, "Yes, I will. Absolutely."

Meanwhile, Becker, 50, filed to have a campaign and spend or raise money to promote his candidacy.

For several months, it was uncertain whether Becker would be running unopposed. The Republicans had until mid-October to come up with a candidate to replace Landry on the ballot.

Becker, a West Hartford attorney, has been actively campaigning in the weeks leading up to Election Day and knocked on more than 7,100 doors between late May and Monday.

“I really haven’t changed my approach very much because I like to get out and talk to my constituents and go door to door," he told Patch Monday. “I think that it's important that a representative should be out in touch with his or her constituents whether I have an opponent or not."

Landry is exempt from "forming a candidate committee," according to his paperwork on the election enforcement commission. As a placeholder candidate without a campaign committee, he had the option to spend up to $1,000 of his own money or apply for public financing. But Landry checked off the box on the form that prohibits him from spending personal funds or receiving any money to promote his candidacy.

That means he cannot pay for signs, mailings, an office and other resources to campaign. He can do something that doesn't cost money like knocking on doors, but he said he is not actively campaigning at all and hasn't even promoted his candidacy on social media.

Becker, however, has a campaign and is authorized to raise and spend money this election. By raising at least $5,000, he qualified for about $26,000 in public campaign financing through the Citizens' Election Program. He is not allowed to spend more than the total of $5,000 in fundraised money and the grant money combined.

Landry, on the other hand, said he is not participating in the grant program and is exempt from filing campaign finance reports.

There is another campaign in a different district, however, that Landry said he is "focusing all of [his] energy on." Landry said he is the campaign manager for fellow Farmington resident and State Rep. William Wadsworth, R-21st. He is registered as deputy treasure for Re-Elect Wadsworth 2012, according to the election enforcement commission's website.

Landry said there are no restrictions for being a candidate and simultaneously serving on someone's campaign in another district. However, he did say that when he goes to an event with the Wadsworth campaign, Wadsworth is not allowed to pay for him because he is a candidate in another race. He pays for himself where campaigns normally pay for staff to go to certain social functions.

Information about where to vote in West Hartford as well as the MDC referendum which will appear on the ballot is available here.

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