"By giving someone your endorsement, you are holding up that candidate as someone who is ethically and morally positioned to represent the interests of people," Jarmoc said. "If (party officials) were aware that the person had an abusive history, that should call into question his ability to serve in office."
Allegations that Gilmer strangled his victim are particularly concerning, Jarmoc said, citing a study that shows a history of strangulation places a victim at a higher risk for more serious injuries or homicide by the hands of an intimate partner.
Gilmer, who is 29 and lives in Madison, had never run for public office before and has no record of community or public service in Connecticut. Born and raised in Ohio, he moved to Connecticut in 2014, after graduating from Liberty University.
He could not be reached for comment but in a letter Tuesday, he said he intends to quit the race and fight the charges.
"Our movement -- built on the tenets of good, old-fashioned Yankee conservatism -- is too important to be sidetracked by the allegations facing me -- allegations which I intend to fight," Gilmer wrote.
The 2nd Congressional District sprawls across the eastern half of Connecticut, from Enfield in the North to Madison along the shoreline. Rumors about Gilmer began spreading in many of the district's 64 communities as more and more Republicans saw the video.
Lori Hopkins-Cavanaugh was part of a group of people who saw the video in mid-July, at a gathering in Sprague.
"It was shocking," she said. "I couldn't watch the whole thing."
Hopkins-Cavanaugh said she felt obligated to speak out about the case. so she posted a statement on social media. She said she felt Romano and other party officials had failed to act.
"I think personally the Republican Party has an obligation when one of their candidates is accused of something so serious to be open to the information so the voters will know that these allegations are out there," Hopkins-Cavanaugh said.
Other prominent Republicans agree.
Tim Herbst, who ran for governor in 2018, said Republican leaders did not adequately vet Gilmer.
"Elizabeth Esty lost her seat in Congress for not acting on a complaint," said Herbst, referring to the former Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut who decided not to run for reelection after coming under fire for mishandling a sexual harassment complaint against her chief of staff. "If this is true, this is much, much worse."
Herbst is calling for an independent investigation into the Republican Party's response to the charges against Gilmer.
Despite Gilmer's announcement that he is quitting the race, he has yet to formally notify the Secretary of the State's office.
Meanwhile, Gilmer and Anderson are locked in a near tie and the race is likely to result in a recount. If Gilmer wins the primary and drops out, as he said he would, Anderson would not automatically become the nominee: The Republican Party would select a candidate to run against Courtney, who is heavily favored to win reelection.
The woman says she believes both she and Anderson were treated badly by the party and deserve an apology.
"They need to say, 'we messed up,"' she said. "They could make this a way to stand up for (victims of) domestic violence but they're not doing that. They're still covering up. They didn't take the opportunity to listen to me when they could have."
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