Shelton’s Ben McGorty easily tops challenger in House primary

Ben McGorty of Shelton had the same reaction to his primary victory Tuesday night that he had three weeks earlier, when he won another election for the state representative seat.

“Wow!” McGorty told supporters during a brief speech at his primary night celebration at Vazzy’s in Shelton.

A huge cheer went up at the celebration when the results from the final polling place — Mohegan School in Shelton — were announced, putting McGorty over the top.

Mohegan is McGorty’s home district, and also the neighborhood that his wife Noreen represents on the Shelton Board of Aldermen.

“I won tonight, but we all won,” McGorty told supporters.

“Hard work paid off,” he told the Shelton Herald after the results became known. “The people have spoken.”

Wins with 62% of the vote

McGorty, the Republican Party-endorsed candidate, defeated challenger Michael Vickerelli of Stratford in the Aug. 12 GOP primary for the 122nd House seat. Unofficial returns show McGorty winning 62%-38%.

The district includes slightly less than half of Shelton as well as small parts of Stratford and Trumbull.

McGorty won big in Shelton, which makes up the bulk of the district, while Vickerelli was victorious in his hometown of Stratford as well as in Trumbull.

McGorty thanked his supporters for their efforts during the primary campaign, but also made a reference to the fact that the Republican top elected leaders in all three towns in the district had endorsed his opponent.

“It was an ugly race, but we were honest,” McGorty said.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Stratford Mayor John Harkins and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst all backed Vickerelli in what was considered a somewhat unusual move because McGorty had won the party endorsement.

McGorty and Lauretti, who once were close personally, have had a political falling out in recent years.

Already an incumbent legislator

McGorty is an incumbent, having been sworn into office less than three weeks ago after winning the special election to fill the seat left vacant due to the death of longtime state Rep. Larry Miller, also a Republican.

The GOP primary victory also means McGorty can stop campaigning for the time being. “I’m glad it’s over,” he told a supporter at the victory celebration.

As of now, he faces no challenger in November although Democrat Arlene Liscinsky of Shelton may pursue a legal challenge to try to get on the general election ballot due to earlier complications with some of her signature petitions.

Perillo: GOP voters wanted McGorty

State Rep. Jason Perillo, a Republican who represents the 113th District in Shelton, said the primary results showed McGorty’s strength among voters, particularly in his hometown of Shelton.

Perillo, who helped run the McGorty campaign, noted McGorty went into the primary campaign with the party endorsement.

Perillo said House Republicans will soon offer a proposal to eliminate the state income tax on Social Security and pensions. He said the plan would require some spending cuts in the state budget to make up for the lost revenue.

“We believe in it,” said Perillo, who has served in the legislature since 2007. “The question is whether legislative Democrats have the appetite for it.”