March 23rd, 2014 | City

Lee Whitnum joins race for governor

The Democratic Party has its first official candidate for governor and it’s not incumbent Dannel Malloy. Lee Whitnum, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012, is now in the race.

Whitnum announced her candidacy on her website last Tuesday. The home page features a quote from Theodore Roosevelt — “Believe you can and you’re halfway there” — and a pledge to focus on judicial reform.

“My simple plan to empower the people will give average folks the right to fire dishonest and corrupt judges who push the boundaries of ‘judicial discretion,’” Whitnum wrote. “Like you, I want fairness in the court system. Unfortunately, there are few checks and balances.”

Malloy has yet to declare intentions to seek reelection in 2014, though he is widely expected to do so. James Hallinan, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, declined to comment on Whitnum’s candidacy.

Gary Rose, chairman of the Department of Government & Politics at Sacred Heart University said Whitnum focused almost exclusively on one issue — opposition to Israeli influence in American politics — in her previous races. Whitnum’s record includes a run for Congress in 2008 in addition to Senate campaigns in 2010 and 2012. During a televised debate in 2012, Whitnum gained attention for using colorful language to criticize Murphy’s support for the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

“I’m dealing with a whore here who sells his soul to AIPAC,” Whitnum said in 2012.

Rose said he doubted Israel would be relevant in a gubernatorial election. He speculated that Whitnum would fail to gain support in the race.

“She seems to enjoy raising controversial issues and in some respects I think she actually seems to appreciate the attention that she draws to herself by doing so,” Rose said. “I seriously doubt that she’s going to go into the Democratic convention with any delegates. It’s just a sideshow.”

He added that Whitnum’s announcement would likely not influence the timing of Malloy’s declaration of his intention to run. Rose believes Malloy will announce his candidacy at the Democratic convention on May 16.

Whitnum has not responded to requests for comment.