The Connecticut Democrats nominated businessman Ned Lamont SOM ’80 for governor at the state party convention on Saturday.

Lamont’s only challenger, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, received 13 percent of the delegates’ votes, failing to cross the 15 percent threshold necessary to force a primary in August. Still, both Ganim and retired Greenwich business executive Guy Smith are collecting signatures to petition their way onto the ballot and force a primary. At the convention on Saturday, Ganim said he has already collected 11,000 of the 15,500 signatures he needs.

Even before the convention, Lamont, whose campaign is largely self-funded, had raked in many high profile endorsements from politicians including Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and former gubernatorial candidate and former West Hartford mayor Jonathan Harris. Harp, who gave a speech seconding Lamont’s nomination, praised Lamont for his business knowledge and commitment to “equal protection and equal opportunity for all residents.”

“I celebrate the diversity. This is America. This is the best of Connecticut. I am so proud to be here, and if Donald Trump doesn’t understand that, it’s his problem,” Lamont said at the convention on Saturday. “We have a battle on our hands. These are Trump Republicans. We’re going to fight to keep this place Connecticut blue, and we’re going to win.”

But since the announcement earlier this week that Lamont’s top competitor, former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83, would join him on a joint gubernatorial ticket with, all eyes have been on the lieutenant governor race.

After Lamont announced Bysiewicz as his running mate, many Connecticut Democrats criticized him for not picking a black or Hispanic candidate. On Wednesday night, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, a 30-year-old Puerto Rican union organizer who told the CT Mirror she had a conversation with Lamont about being his running mate, announced she would challenge Bysiewicz for the lieutenant governor nomination.

Though Bysiewicz won the nomination, Zimmerman received 40 percent of the delegates’ votes, forcing a primary on Aug. 14. If Zimmerman wins that election, she will be the Connecticut Democrats’ first Hispanic statewide nominee. Despite criticism, Lamont did not waver in his support for Bysiewicz.

“Susan and I are going to fight every day to keep Connecticut blue, side by side as full partners,” he said at the convention.

The relatively uncompetitive Democratic convention offered a stark contrast to the Republican event last weekend. At the GOP convention, Republicans narrowly nominated Mark Boughton as their gubernatorial candidate after three rounds of balloting. But a primary with at least three candidates still looms. By joining forces with Bysiewicz, however, Lamont had effectively secured the party’s nomination before the convention, making for a more celebratory, less raucous event.

The Connecticut Democrats also nominated U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, for a second six-year term.

Ashna Gupta |