Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, the first candidate to declare his intention of seeking the Democratic nomination for the Connecticut governorship, was also the first to announce a lieutenant governor.
Almost 11 months away from the first vote being cast in the primary election, Drew on Wednesday announced state Rep. Liz Linehan, D-103, as his running mate. The Sept. 6 announcement of the freshman representative as his running mate represents a large break from established political convention, as Connecticut gubernatorial candidates have historically waited until later in the election year to announce their running mates.
“It’s all about being able to go out to the people and talk to them where they live,” Linehan said when asked why Drew announced her selection so early. “The best way we can ever represent the people of the state of Connecticut is to find out what they want us to fight for.”
Bucking political convention has been emblematic of the Drew campaign. He announced his intention to run with the formation of an exploratory committee in January this year, three months before Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that he would not be seeking reelection. The announcement of his running mate is equally ahead of schedule — in his 2010 campaign for governor, Malloy waited until April of that year to announce his running mate.
In Connecticut, separate primaries are held for the governor and lieutenant governor races. So while Drew and Linehan are running together and will be closely coordinating their campaigns, they must each win their respective races in the primary.
The effectiveness of this gambit remains to be seen. In the 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced that he would be campaigning with state Sen. Heather Somers. Following the Republican primary, only Somers advanced.
This announcement comes before the field of candidates for the 2018 election is settled, and there remains speculation as to what candidates will enter the field.
“The entire way they are running the campaign is unconventional,” campaign spokeswoman Ashley Gaudiano said. “They saw no need to stick to the normal timeline.”
Convention, Linehan said, “hasn’t gotten us very far in the past few years.”
When asked about her qualifications for the position, Linehan pointed to her legislative achievements. Within her first six months in office, Linehan passed four pieces of legislation, ranging in content from preventing human trafficking to training police officers in communicating effectively with autistic children.
Lineham is also a lifelong resident of Cheshire, where she began her career in public service as a member of the Cheshire Town Council. Following two terms of service, she ran to be a state representative, which is when she first met Drew.
“Liz is the right partner because she’s brilliant, honest and has a record of changing her constituents’ lives,” Drew said during his speech announcing Linehan at Consolidated Industries in Cheshire.
The two met when Linehan was campaigning for state representative and have known each other for around a year. Since then, they have developed a close working relationship and become family friends. Linehan was an early supporter of the Drew campaign. The two frequently appeared on campaign stops together.
“People kept saying, hey, you guys are really great together, Liz should be your Lt. Govenor,” Linehan said. “I used to laugh, but then Dan pulled me aside and asked me to be his running mate.”
The Democratic primary is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14 next year.
Alex McGrath | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Sept. 15: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Dan Drew as the mayor of Bridgewater when in fact he is the mayor of Middletown.