When a new president is officially elected on Dec. 19, Christopher Rosario, a Bridgeport resident who until three years ago had never run for office, will be the only Hispanic in Connecticut casting a vote.
“It is definitely an honor,” said Rosario, a Bridgeport native who was one of the state’s seven Democratic state party leaders nominated to the Electoral College to represent Hillary Clinton.
On Nov. 8, Rosario was re-elected to the state House of Representatives, but his name did not appear on the general election ballot under the presidential column. However, every vote cast for Democrat Hillary Clinton and her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine was also a vote for Rosario and the others on her elector slate.
“I will be proud to vote for her,” Rosario said of the former first lady and secretary of state, who he supported throughout the primary and general election process. He also expressed regret that she will not be the next president. Clinton won the popular vote handily, but Trump copped the decisive electoral vote majority nationally, pending planned recounts in three crucial states.
Connecticut, with two senators and five members of the House of Representatives, is assigned seven electoral votes, and since Clinton easily out-polled Republican billionaire Donald Trump on Nov. 8 in the Constitution State, the elector slate attached to her candidacy also won.
Under the U.S. Constitution, a national total of 528 electors, connected to the winner of the presidential contest in each state and the District of Columbia, ultimately decide who the nation’s chief executive will be for the next four years.
The framers of the Constitution set up the Electoral College primarily as a compromise mechanism to avoid what they feared could turn into a potentially manipulated popularity contest, to avoid giving this function to Congress and to provide extra influence to smaller states.
Hence, Wyoming, the least populated state, gets the minimum of three electoral votes even though its population is about one-sixth of Connecticut’s, or about 67 times less than California, which has 55 electors.
This indirect procedure, set out in Article 2 of the Constitution, has been fine-tuned throughout its 288-year history and almost every four years is criticized as an anachronism and not truly indicative of the public’s will, as is the case after this year’s election.
“People have been trying to change it since before I was born,” Rosario said, adding he has received some letters telling him that the electoral system is a sham.
The electors from each state meet in their state capital. In Connecticut the secretary of the state oversees the vote.
In addition to Rosario, the state’s electors are Barbara Gordon of West Hartford, Ellen Nurse of Hartford, Edward Piazza and Tyisha Walker of New Haven, state Rep. Robert Godfrey of Danbury and Steven Jones of Tolland.
The Connecticut Electoral College is scheduled to attend a morning educational presentation in the Legislative Office Building, then move to the Senate chambers in the Capitol where they will cast their ballots behind closed doors at noon and subsequently attend a reception in the north lobby.
Connecticut is one of a few states that have laws binding electors to vote for the candidate they pledged at nomination to represent. Still, Rosario said, he has received “quite a few” emails urging him to stay with Clinton.
Rosario first learned that the party leadership had chosen him for Clinton’s slate during the state Democratic Convention in June. “I did not lobby for this position,” he said, “it was bestowed on me.”
The seven Clinton electors were nominated on the floor of the convention. They ran as a slate recommended by the chair and there was no opposition, explained Leigh Appleby, communications director of the Connecticut Democratic Party.
Connecticut has backed Democratic presidential candidates in every quadrennial election since 1992. Several other Hispanics have been chosen as electors during this period, including two from Bridgeport. In 2012 the Obama slate included Carmen Colon, who is executive director of the Alpha Community Services YMCA in Bridgeport, and in 2004, Andres Ayala Jr., who later was the first Hispanic elected to the state Senate, was elector for John Kerry.
Other Hispanic Democrats who served as electors include Norma Reyes of New Haven (1992), Hilda Santiago of Meriden (1996) and Clorinda Soldevila of Hartford (2000).
For Rosario, a former Bridgeport employee who is now working for the Shelton Police Department, the journey from getting elected to the town committee from his East Side neighborhood in 2014 to become one of the 528 Americans to choose the next president is short chronologically, but many miles long in terms of his penchant for campaigning door-to-door.
The Bridgeport Democrat said he learned from Ayala to “never stop running and nobody worked harder than him.”
Rosario said he enjoys attending various local events and talking personally to people in his district as well as others who live elsewhere and, because they are primarily Spanish-speaking, are more comfortable talking with another Hispanic.
“I will continue to do this (politics) as long as it is fun and does not conflict with needs of my family,” Rosario said.
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