HARTFORD — Four years after his unsuccessful bid to unseat Sen. Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 in the Democratic senatorial primary, Ned Lamont SOM ’80 is back.
Lamont returned to the place where he launched that campaign in 2006 — at the historic Old State House here — and announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic candidacy for governor.
This comes three months after Lamont formed an exploratory committee for the race, taking the largely procedural step before becoming the only official candidate in the Democratic race Tuesday. Speaking in the standing-room only General Assembly room, Lamont declared, to great applause: “No more exploring. I’m running for governor.”
In his 17-minute speech before a roomful of family and supporters, including Yale College Democrats and Connecticut College Democrats President Ben Stango ’11, Lamont zeroed in on the economy, promising to bring his private-sector experience as a CEO of a cable television company to the capital as the state’s “chief economic development officer.”
Highlighting recent biotechnology startups at Science Park at Yale, Lamont cited its continued importance to the state’s economic future.
“That’s where Eli Whitney reinvented manufacturing,” Lamont said. “You should be there with other biotechnology companies to reinvent biotechnology.”
Connecticut currently ranks last among the 50 states in terms of new job creation, and has been shedding manufacturing jobs for over a quarter century.
Lamont also mentioned his failed 2006 campaign Tuesday, saying he and his supporters stood up to the state’s political establishment during that election, in which Lieberman, running as an Independent, took just under 50 percent of the vote.
“We stood up to the political wisdom, and we made a difference,” Lamont said. “I’m here to ask you, Connecticut, to stand up again.”
But how the 2006 senatorial race will affect his gubernatorial chances this year is still unclear, Quinnipiac Univeristy Poll Director Doug Schwartz said Tuesday.
“I think the 2006 race cuts both ways,” Schwartz said. “It has given him great name recognition, but the downside is that he lost in the end.”
In a January Quinnipiac poll, Lamont led all Democratic candidates bidding to replace retiring Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican. When Lamont was on campus last month to speak to the Yale College Democrats, he said he hoped to create an economic “strategic plan” for the state as governor.
Democrat Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, Conn., who narrowly trails Lamont in the polls, released a statement to reporters at the same time that Lamont took the podium Tuesday. Malloy, who has not yet made his candidacy official, announced he had secured the support of 41 elected officials and political leaders across the state.
Schwartz said Malloy is attempting to solidify the support of the Democratic establishment to win its support at the party convention this coming May.
According to state law, if a candidate gets 15 percent of the convention vote, he or she earns a spot on the Democratic primary ballot. Carrying a majority of the convention vote earns the victor the party’s endorsement in the primary. Schwartz said it is likely both candidates will score 15 percent of the vote but it is unclear whether either will secure the party endorsement.
On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Michael Fidele and former United States Ambassador to Ireland Thomas Foley, among others, are currently seeking the governorship.
In 2006, while Lamont attempted to unseat Lieberman, Malloy secured the Democratic Party endorsement for governor but lost a primary battle to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. DeStefano then lost the general election to Rell.