Wallingford’s McKeen Won’t Force Primary In 34th District Race

Vincent Salzo

WALLINGFORD, CT — Wallingford’s Aili McKeen has announced that she will not force a primary election this August for the state senate seat in the 34th District. McKeen won a primary election two years ago to run against longtime Republican incumbent Len Fasano.

Fasano, the Senate Minority Leader, won another term but announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek re-election this November. Former East Haven Mayor April Capone won the Democratic Party’s endorsement last month by a vote of 24-18. Capone received unanimous support in East Haven and won the majority of delegates in North Haven, where she now lives. The 34th District covers all of East Haven and Wallingford, most of North Haven and a part of Durham.

McKeen said Tuesday that after much consideration, she decided to end her campaign and “avoid a difficult, contentious primary in August.”

“While we did extremely well two years ago and defied all expectations in that successful primary, I came up a few votes short in our convention this year,” McKeen wrote in a post on Facebook. “We expected that outcome and were prepared to bring our fight directly to the voters.

“In a normal campaign year, I would have no hesitation in going forward. But this is no normal year. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated our country, killed more than 107,000 Americans, caused 32% unemployment, and upended life and political campaigns as we know them. Without the ability to campaign door-to-door, I simply do not see a pathway to victory on August 11th. With Joe Biden and the political establishment supporting Row A, the numbers are against us.

“I make this decision with a heavy heart, but I also know it is the right thing to do. No one wants a primary that rips us apart and gives the Republicans an advantage in the fall.”

McKeen thanked her supporters and wouldn’t rule out another run in the future.

“Your unwavering support has meant the world to me,” she said. “A future run is not off the table. I will continue to fight and stand up for what is right and just. My voice will continue to advocate for the issues I care about deeply—like healthcare-for-all, women's rights, economic justice, environmental sustainability, and sustainable farming. For over 20 years I have worked as a community activist and helped girls become strong young women. It's time for me to pick up my bow again. I will continue to move the arrow of progress forward. I have never run from any challenge, and in making this choice, I have decided to put our party before myself. Like so often in life, the more difficult path is found in helping others.”

Capone said that she looks forward to working with McKeen.

“Aili has been a champion for women’s rights, the environment and a strong advocate for labor and I applaud her efforts to advance these causes,” Capone said in a statement. “I look forward to working with her on these issues, as the party unites to win back the 34th State Senate seat this November.”

This article originally appeared on the Wallingford Patch