Monday, August 06, 2018

Connecticut Governor- Race of the Day

92 Days Until Election Day

Connecticut Governor

Status: Democrat Open
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Tossup (D)

A week from tomorrow, voters in the Nutmeg State will vote in the primary election and formally select candidates for Governor and separately for Lt. Governor. The two winners in each party will then run a combined effort in the general election. While there are two frontrunners, at least for the main job, it is not impossible to imagine an upset occurring.

In some ways, this election is similar to the one for Governor in Colorado. For one thing, major party candidates go through a system involving party conventions and endorsements before the primary, and also  because while the state leans Democrat, it is too early to declare that the party has any sort of serious edge. While Connecticut is indeed more Democrat-friendly than Colorado, making the task for Republicans hard from the start, it is also true that current Democrat Governor Dan Malloy is extremely unpopular and voters are ready for a change. Governors of both parties have been elected in states where one might not expect, and that could easily wind up happening in Connecticut this year, despite any sort of national headwind, if voters are indeed as upset about taxes and the business situation in the state as they seem to be.

Malloy survived a narrow reelection in 2014, despite poor job performance numbers. In his second term, he became even more disliked and while eligible to seek a third term, declined to do so, to the relief of many Democrats. He might have had a difficult time winning the primary. The association with Malloy was such a political burden that his Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman also decided to sit out what would have likely been her final chance to run for Governor. Some looked to Comptroller Kevin Lembo but he decided to seek reelection.

A slew of Democrats looked at entering the open race, including State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr,. thought to be the best hope of his family's political generation to achieve statewide office on his own accord. He did not run though. The party endorsement would eventually go to Ned Lamont, a wealhty liberal businessman and former Greenwich Selectman who first received political notice when he upset former Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman in a 2006 U.S. Senate primary. However, Lieberman ran as an Independent and was reelected anyway. In 2010, Lamont ran for Governor, but the party endorsement and the primary victory went to Malloy. Now, eight years later, with Malloy unpopular, Lamont was able to capitalize and is hoping he is finally on the path to statewide victory.

In Connecticut, candidates sometimes have an affiliation with a candidate for Lt. Governor before the primary and that is the case for Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz. A former Secretary of State, she has run into numerous obstacles in attempts to seek her party's nomination for either Governor, U.S. Senate, or Attorney General in recent cycles. She was planning to run for Governor once again, but once it was clear that the party regulars were behind Lamont, she endorsed him and agreed to run for the second spot on the ticket. Bysciewicz is expected to defeat Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, a progressive activist= and former Congressional activist in next week's primary, even though the latter did better than expected at the party convention vote.

Lamont is facing a primary challenger himself in Joe Ganim, the Mayor of Connecticut's largest city of Bridgeport. Ganim first became Mayor in 1991 and withdrew from a race for Governor in 1994. In 2003 though, the Mayor was convicted of numerous federal charges of racketeering and other offenses. He resigned and was sentenced to nine years in prison. Ganim was released after about eight years and completing a drug treatment program. While unsuccessful in his efforts to regain his law license, Ganim did manage to get elected Mayor again in 2015. Now, he is running for Governor, and has some labor union support, as Ganim is seen as having a more blue-collar image than the preppy Lamont. Denied public campaign funds by virtue of being a felon, Ganim does not have the resources to truly compete in this primary Lamont should probably win by a solid margin, but there do not seem to be many polls on the contest. The race seems to be fairly divisive as the candidates demur on whether or not they could support the other if they lose.

The Republican ballot features a larger number of candidates, both for Governor and Lt. Governor and at least a bit more uncertainty as to what might happen next week. Several well-known Republicans declined to run including Tom Foley, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, who twice lost narrowly as the party's nominee against Malloy, as well as various past and current state legislators. A handful of other candidates for Governor, including those who had in the past run for Governor or other statewide offices were eliminated at the party convention.

On the third ballot, the party's nod went to Mark Boughton, the 54 year old Mayor of Danbury. He was previously the party's nominee for Lt. Governor in 2010 and in 2014 withdrew his candidacy for Governor in a race against Foley, his 2010 running-mate. Four other candidates will be on the Republican primary ballot with Boughton. In alphabetical order, they are Tim Herbst, the former First Selectman of Trumbull, and unsuccessful nominee for Treasurer in 2014, businessman Steve Obsitnik, a defeated nominee for Congress in 2012, and then businessmen and first time candidates Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman. As would be expected, the businessmen challengers of Boughton and pointing to their private sector experience as a better bet to getting the state back on the right fiscal track as opposed to "career politicians."

Boughton had been considered the frontrunner early on though. A scary moment happened though this past March when the candidate collapsed at a Republican Gubernatorial form. He was attended to by a then opponent for Governor who was also a physician, State Representative Prasad Srinivasan. (Did Boughton at least offer him the Lt. Governorship as a thank you gesture for perhaps saving his life via CPR?) With his political hopes on the line, Boughton released a lot of medical information upon being released from the hospital. He had been treated for a benign brain tumor the year before and claims the episode was because he went without taking his medication for a couple of days and was also dehydrated. His physicians have stated that Boughton is healthy enough to serve as Governor but some in the state may retain concerns.

The GOP endorsed candidate for Lt. Governor is State Senator Joe Markley, a conservative with ties to the Tea Party that many feel would not add much to the ticket of Boughton, who is seen as more of a moderate Republican, or his opponents. In recent cycles though, the party endorsed candidates for Lt. Governor have been defeated in the primary. Two women are also on the ballot including Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. The candidate who is seen as potentially being he strongest political partner for whomever emerges as the nominee for Governor is New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. At just 31 years old, she is considered a rising star in the party. A social moderate, Stewart jumped into the race for Governor in 2018, and had her own choice as running-mate, but as it was clear she did not have the statewide support for the top job, she switched to Lt. Governor and nominally endorsed Boughton. Her running-mate backed her move and withdrew himself.

So, in a week and a day, we can formalize whom the candidates are and if Republicans got the appropriate nominees to best have the chance of winning in a fairly blue state like Connecticut. They could only wish to be so lucky as to run against an ex-con like Ganim. Lamont is likely to be the person seen as the slight favorite throughout, and that is understandable, but it cannot be underestimated just how unpopular Governor Malloy is and how he could be a drag on his party more than Donald Trump might be on Republicans in the state. If the race really goes down to the wire, a spoiler role could be played by Independent candidate Oz Gabriel, a businessman who ran as a Republican for the office in 2010. His running-mate this year is Monte Frank, a former Democrat who was President of the state bar association and gun control activist.

When all is said and done, I would not be surprised if Connecticut is just too blue this year and if Lamont winds up winning by 10 points. At this vantage point though, the unpopularity of the Governor he would have been picked to succeed has to factor in as does the potential strength of a strong Republican ticket calling for change.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

3 D,  (1 Safe. 2 Tossup) 4 R (2 Safe, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

10 D (7 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Tossup), 11 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup)


At 2:03 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...



Post a Comment

<< Home