Democratic businessman Ned Lamont SOM ’80 on Tuesday announced a joint gubernatorial ticket with former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83, narrowing the field just three days before the Democratic state convention in Hartford.
Both Lamont and Bysiewicz were considered front-runners for the governor nomination ahead of Friday’s convention. But following Lamont’s various high-profile endorsements — from Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, former gubernatorial candidate and former West Hartford Mayor Jonathan Harris and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp — Bysiewicz abandoned her gubernatorial bid in the interests of party unity.
The move provides a stark contrast with the lack of harmony on display last weekend at the state GOP’s raucous multiple-ballot convention, which culminated in the party endorsing Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton for governor.
Supporters praise Lamont for his business acumen, teaching experience and support for transportation infrastructure projects. Bysiewicz, on the other hand, has the political experience that Lamont lacks. She served as Connecticut secretary of state from 1999 to 2011 before unsuccessfully running for state attorney general in 2010 and United States Senate in 2012.
“Democrats need to be unified if we are going to win in November and having Susan join our campaign makes our ticket stronger and makes our party stronger,” Lamont said in the joint press release. “Working together with Susan, we can get Connecticut back on track and make it the place where people want to live and raise their families again.”
Following Harp’s endorsement of Lamont on May 3, many speculated that she would join Lamont’s ticket as his lieutenant governor. Mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer on Tuesday confirmed to the News that Harp and Lamont had discussed the possibility, but said he did not know whether there was a formal invitation. Grotheer stressed that Harp continues to support Lamont in his gubernatorial campaign.
While the joint ticket may have brought party unity, it does not guarantee a primary win. There are still three other Democratic candidates in the field. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and former state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly will compete for at least 15 percent of delegates at the Democratic state convention this weekend. Additionally, Ganim and retired Greenwich business executive Guy Smith have already started collecting signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. If a candidate does not receive the 15 percent of delegates required to qualify for a spot on the primary ballot on Aug. 14, the candidate can secure a spot by gathering approximately 15,500 signatures from Democratic voters in Connecticut — 2 percent of the party’s statewide enrollment.
In their joint press release, Lamont and Bysiewicz said they agree on many issues, including the importance of job creation, equal pay and modern transportation infrastructure.
“It will take strong leadership to rebuild this state’s infrastructure, pass a balanced budget, strengthen our public education system and help Connecticut’s business create more jobs, and I know that Ned and I can get the job done,” Bysiewicz said.
But state Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, who is also considering a run for the lieutenant Governor position, told the Hartford Courant an all-white gubernatorial ticket could be harmful for Democrats. He said the partnership “hits the female part but not the racial component.”
At a press conference held Tuesday morning at East Rock Community Magnet School, Lamont countered Holder-Winfield by claiming that his administration would be “the most diverse administration in Connecticut history.” He and Bysiewicz said they would prioritize appointing people of color to various state board positions, including as judges and commissioners.
“It’s not a political calculation. You’ve got to make sure that you have a government that reflects the people of the state,” Lamont said during the press conference. “They have to have someone they can believe in. They have to have someone they can identify with.”
The general election for Connecticut governor will take place on Nov. 6.
Ashna Gupta | firstname.lastname@example.org