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North Canaan had the highest voter turnout in the state during 2023 primary races, per CT Mirror. Photo from ctmirror.org

Whiting wins North Canaan GOP primary

NORTH CANAAN — In a Sept. 12 Republican primary election for selectman candidate in North Canaan, 409 registered Republicans cast their votes. When the tallying was complete, the registrars announced that incumbent Second Selectman Craig Whiting defeated Jesse Bunce 296 votes to 113.

The results cemented the Republican ticket for the upcoming November election with Brian Ohler running for first selectman and Whiting running for selectman.

Bunce, who was seeking cross-endorsement by the Republicans, will remain on the Democratic ticket for the election in November. Bunce will run for selectman along with current Third Selectman Christian Allyn running for the seat of first selectman for the Democrats.

After confirming with the Town Clerk, North Canaan’s registrars said this was the first municipal primary election in town history. 

“We have not had any kind of primary like this ever before in a municipal election,” said Republican Registrar Rosemary Keilty.

Interest in the primary caused North Canaan’s Republican party to grow by more than 20% in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 12 election. Prior to the announcement of the primary race, there were 561 registered town Republicans. By the deadline to register to vote in the primary, over 100 unaffiliateds became registered Republicans and the party grew to 694 members.

“We had 409 people vote yesterday, which is a very good turn-out,” said Keilty, adding that many more non-Republican voters were turned away on Sept. 12 for not registering with the party in time to vote in the primary.

North Canaan’s primary saw 58.9% of eligible voters cast ballots in the election, the highest voter turnout in the state in 2023 primary races.

As of Sept. 13, the town’s Republican Party had grown by another 18 voters to total 712 members, surpassing the unaffiliated bloc in town for the first time. On Aug. 1 of this year there were 810 unaffiliated voters in North Canaan, but as of Sept. 13 that figure had dropped to 690.

“We made some town history yesterday,” Keilty wrote in a statement on Sept. 13.

With the ballots finalized for the November election in North Canaan, Whiting and Bunce will face off again in less than two months as they vie for a seat on the Board of Selectmen.

Voting day for 2023 municipal elections will be held on Nov. 7.

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