Democrats Wrestle With Politics In Diversity Discussion

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Posted to: Election 2018

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L to R: Shawn Wooden, Arunan Arulampalam and Dita Bhargava

HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 10 p.m.) In the leadup to the Democratic Party’s nominating convention, race and ethnicity have become an issue in the gubernatorial campaign and beyond.

Everything changed this week when Ned Lamont, a white man from Greenwich, faced criticism for choosing Susan Bysiewicz, a white woman from Middletown, as his running mate.

That put a greater emphasis on the need for the party to find more diversity on the rest of its underticket for the constitutional offices.

Typically, diversity for the Democratic Party has meant re-nominating Denise Nappier, who is African American, to run for state treasurer. However, for the first time in 20 years Nappier isn’t running for re-election.

The good news for Democrats is that three of the four candidates running for treasurer are people of color, though only one — Shawn Wooden — is African American. Dita Bhargava is Indian — her parents immigrated from India when she was a child. Arunan Arulampalam is the son of refugees — his parents fled Sri Lanka in 1983 at the start of the civil war there. John Blankley is white.

There is talk that some Democrats are looking to avoid acrimony and possibly win back the support of the black community by making sure Wooden, a former Hartford city council president, walks away with the endorsement without a primary.

A spokeswoman for Lamont said he doesn’t plan on making an endorsement in the race prior to the convention.

“Democratic voters should be allowed to judge the merits of the candidates for themselves,” Bhargava said. “Picking…

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