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OP-ED: Choosing Connecticut’s next governor – let actions speak louder than words

March 23, 2018 By Bob Stefanowski
OP-ED: Choosing Connecticut’s next governor – let actions speak louder than words

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski challenges gubernatorial candidates to reject taxpayer-funded election grants, in an exclusive op-ed.

As spring finally arrives, Connecticut voters are turning their attention to who among the over thirty candidates running for governor is best qualified to reverse eight years of horrible economic policy under Governor Dan Malloy. With a $3.5 billion budget deficit, a $100 billion underfunded state employee pension plan and crumbling roads, this is the most important election our state has seen in decades. But with an unprecedented number of gubernatorial candidates, many residents are having trouble simply remembering the names of each candidate, let alone their qualifications, platform and policies.

Many wonder how it’s even possible to have over thirty people running for governor. In most states, the number of gubernatorial candidates is limited to those who can articulate a vision, resonate with voters and influence people to voluntarily donate to the costs of their political campaign. For candidates who can’t accomplish this, campaign funding dries up very quickly, candidates are forced to withdraw from the race, and there is a natural selection process that narrows the field to the most credible candidates; but not in Connecticut.

In our state, hard-working taxpayers pay for 100% of the cost of political campaigns, whether they support the candidate or not! Under Connecticut’s Citizens Elections Program (“CEP”), gubernatorial candidates who meet certain conditions, receive $1,250,000 to fund their primary campaign and another $6,000,000 if they make it into the general election. This is an astounding amount, with each candidate spending on average over $10,000 of taxpayer money every single day between the party conventions in May and the August primaries. All told, this year’s gubernatorial election alone could cost taxpayers up to $40 million to pay for career politicians, just to tell you how bankrupt our state is!

How can these candidates not admit, or at least see the hypocrisy in this position? To make matters worse, several of these candidates have run for office two, three or even four times before, using taxpayer money to do it. Can you imagine the uproar if Hillary Clinton supporters had been forced to pay for President Trump’s political campaign, or vice-versa? I suspect this year’s gubernatorial candidates do see the hypocrisy in this position, but simply can’t afford to admit it. If you are running for governor, even if you have little chance of winning, why not give it a shot when someone else is paying the bill and you have nothing personally at risk?

I find it absolutely unconscionable that in a state with massive budget deficits and higher and higher taxes, we are asking taxpayers to give every gubernatorial candidate using CEP over $10,000 per day to buy bumper stickers and yard signs, rather than using this money to invest in our children’s education, fix our roads and bridges or simply give the money back to taxpayers.  Almost all of the thirty plus gubernatorial candidates have assured voters that they will qualify for, as they say it, “the money.” In other words, they will ask taxpayers to pay for their campaign, while they contribute nothing themselves.

But it’s not too late to save our state millions of dollars this year. There are still eight months to the general election in November. I challenge each and every gubernatorial candidate to reject the taxpayer grant and fund their campaigns in a fiscally responsible way, through a combination of their own resources and donations from people who want to give to their campaigns.  At a minimum, gubernatorial candidates should pledge to not use the full $1,250,000, by contributing at least something themselves or being more disciplined on the number of TV ads and yard signs they buy with taxpayer money.

A notable gesture of this kind would save Connecticut millions of dollars this year.   It would also help voters refine their choices for Connecticut’s next governor into two groups:

  • Candidates who truly put the interests of their constituents ahead of their own, and have the courage to take tangible actions to prove it.
  • Candidates who put their political careers ahead of the state’s hardworking taxpayers, despite the “promises” they make in their political speeches to put constituents first.

People are down on career politicians because too often they say one thing, and do another. Our state is in an absolute crisis.  We need a leader who will do the right thing for the long term future of Connecticut residents, rather than the right thing for the next step in their own political career. Here is the perfect, tangible opportunity for voters to see what the gubernatorial candidates are made of. Which candidates will put their constituents first and which candidates will simply continue the Dan Malloy legacy of slick campaign speeches, empty promises and self-promotion – all at the expense of hard-working Connecticut taxpayers. We can’t afford to get this election wrong.  Actions speak louder than words.

Bob Stefanowski is a businessman from Madison, Connecticut, currently running for Republican candidate for governor.  He is funding his gubernatorial campaign by a combination of his own funds plus hundreds of voluntary donors across the state who support him and his platform.

Op-eds represent the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the editorial views of Reclaim Connecticut. If you’re interested in submitting an op-ed to Reclaim Connecticut, contact Andrew Lautz ([email protected]) or Mike Presutti ([email protected]ct.com).