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Reclaim CT Co-Founder on the CT-Gov. Race

August 12, 2018 By Andrew Lautz
Reclaim CT Co-Founder on the CT-Gov. Race

Andrew Lautz shares what he has learned about the Connecticut gubernatorial candidates, ahead of the August 14 primary.

On Tuesday, Connecticut Republicans and Democrats will go to the polls with their first chance to weigh in on the most important election in the history of the state.

It’s a tired cliché to say some election is the ‘most important election of our lifetimes,’ but here are a few sobering statistics for anyone who thinks Connecticut can continue to operate on autopilot:

  • The next governor is staring down $11 billion in budget deficits over his first four fiscal years; if history is an indicator that number will grow, given eroding tax receipts and cost overruns
  • While Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.) kicked some of Connecticut’s labor obligations down the road, to 2027, the state’s unfunded pension and retiree health liabilities will continue to stare taxpayers in the face
  • If Connecticut spends another four years as a state inhospitable to running or even starting a business, more companies large and small will flee the state (and will go to any one of dozens of states with a better business climate)

So, who partisans pick to represent the major parties on Tuesday matters a great deal.

On the Democratic side, the choice seems easy: a liberal former U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidate with a history in business, or a man who went to prison for – wait for it – public corruption.

Reclaim Connecticut is a center-right site, though, and I want to focus more on the Republican contest.

Five candidates remain standing in the race. I’ve had the unique privilege of interviewing all five several times, and getting to know their approach well.

  • Bob Stefanowski has made a successful career in business, and has attempted to release some serious plans to put a jolt back into Connecticut. If he’s the nominee, though, voters will need to see more details and more energy from the businessman.
  • Former First Selectman Tim Herbst (R-Trumbull) is energetic, doesn’t back down from a fight, and is a rising star in the party. One trouble would be squaring his social conservative positions in the primary with a socially liberal electorate in the fall.
  • Businessman Steve Obsitnik has a compelling background, a command of the issues, and an optimistic message. This all holds even though his plan to create 300,000 jobs in Connecticut over eight years sounds a touch ambitious.
  • I agree with Kevin Rennie on this: businessman David Stemerman is the smartest candidate in the race, on either side. It’s not even close. Even if Stemerman falls short on Tuesday, the Republican nominee would be wise to consider Stemerman for a Cabinet position. Stemerman needs to be involved with the new government.
  • Mayor Mark Boughton (R-Danbury) is smart, engaging, would represent a sharp contrast from Ned Lamont, and has years of experience successfully running a major city. He’ll need to start telling voters how he plans to pay for his plan to eliminate the income tax, or risk seeing his plans fall short – but Boughton’s ambition is unmatched in this race.

I don’t write to make a recommendation to Republican primary voters; Reclaim Connecticut has only been around for 18 months, and I feel I haven’t earned that privilege. But consider all of above caveats when picking a candidate on Tuesday.

Any Republican would be an improvement over Malloy, and would take the state in a better direction than Lamont intends to take Connecticut. But who voters choose for both parties on Tuesday matters deeply for the fall.