Lamont SOM ’80 talks to Dems

Ned Lamont SOM ’80 spoke to the Yale College Democrats in the Branford College common room in January.
Ned Lamont SOM ’80 spoke to the Yale College Democrats in the Branford College common room in January. Photo by Esther Zuckerman.

When Ned Lamont SOM ’80 taught a Yale School of Management Course “Connecticut Inc.,” he tried to teach Yalies how to run a state like a business.

Now Lamont may apply the same lessons in this year’s state elections. In November, he formed a committee to explore a run for governor, and he’s approaching the job with a businessman’s attitude.

“Every great company has a strategic plan,” he told the News at a meet-and-greet with the Yale College Democrats on Monday. “Why doesn’t a state?”

Lamont has yet to announce details of his campaign platform or even officially declare his bid, but he said he plans to do so next month. At the meeting, Lamont, who challenged and beat Sen. Joseph Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 in the 2006 Democratic senatorial primary but lost in the general election, emphasized the importance of job creation in Connecticut. In the speech and following question-and-answer session, Lamont said he used his experiences as a CEO of a cable television company to prove he would be a good choice for the governor’s seat.

In his speech at the Dems event, located in the Branford College Common Room, Lamont said Connecticut needs to be on “offense” when it comes to attracting businesses to the state. He said the state, like a business, needs to “listen to your customers,” referring to the businesses that employ workers in the state.

Lamont’s speech focused on the state and its budget deficit. In September, Gov. M. Jodi Rell refused to sign the budget passed by the state legislature, saying the budget’s spending cuts were not sufficient as the state faced an $8 billion two-year deficit. The budget became law days later without her explicit consent, but the state is already running a deficit. In addition to job creation, Lamont said he wanted to apply for federal grants, including Race to the Top education funding, which will be awarded to states for creating plans to improve their schools.

Because Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 declared last week that she would run for attorney general and leave the gubernatorial race, Lamont is in a strong position to win the Democratic nomination, Director of the Quinnipiac University Poll Douglas Schwartz said Monday. Polling this month by Pubic Policy Polling suggests that former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy is currently leading Lamont, though not by much. The poll also suggests that either candidate would beat the expected Republican candidate, Tom Foley, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

“Now that such a strong contender is removed, it makes his path easier,” Schwartz said. “He certainly has the most money, the greatest name recognition. He has huge advantages, at the start, over the rest of the field.”

But Schwartz added that the gubernatorial race is a crowded field, and Malloy is a “strong candidate” who “has to be taken seriously.” And, Schwartz said, there could be a “dark horse.”

Speaking about the crowded field, Lamont said, “The more the merrier.”

Dems President Ben Stango ’11 said that because of Lamont’s run against Lieberman in 2006, the School of Management alum is already known around campus. But Schwartz said the downside to Lamont’s bid for Senate is that some voters will view him as “a loser.”

Lamont opened the Dems’ event by discussing his run as the anti-war candidate against Lieberman. School of Management Professor Douglas Rae, who co-taught “Connecticut, Inc.” with Lamont in 2007 and is a family friend, said the governorship seemed like a “very logical target” for Lamont.

Four years after graduating from the School of Management, Lamont started Lamont Digital Systems, which has become Campus TeleVideo and is meant to provide cable television and other services to college campuses, according to Lamont’s exploratory Web site.

Rae said that Lamont’s experience in business makes him a good candidate because he is well-equipped to deal with the state’s economic problems.

“I’m not going to vouch for Ned as a professor,” Rae joked. “He’s just a politician.”

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