Earlier this summer, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Cheshire, both endorsed Democrats running in the 2020 democratic primary for president.
In early July, Lamont endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, who came to Connecticut last fall to stump for Lamont near the end of his close governor’s race. On July 3 — the very next day — Hayes chose to throw her support behind California Sen. Kamala Harris after watching her impressive debate performance the previous week.
Lamont’s communications director, Max Reiss, told the News that Lamont’s personal friendship with Biden largely impacted his decision to endorse the former vice president, but he also highlighted the political values the two share. Reiss said that Lamont wants to “be there for Biden” as he campaigns for the White House.
“Governor Lamont believes Joe Biden represents a great path forward for America and a turning of the page. He has had an incredible political career, one of public service, and is someone who understands so many of the issues that families deal with on a regular basis.” Reiss told the News. “Vice President Biden helped Governor Lamont get over the finish line with a rally last year.”
Meanwhile, Hayes announced her support for Harris in a July 3 op-ed published in Essence, a week after the first Democratic debates.
Harris made waves after the first debate, in part because of attacks she waged against Biden on his previous opposition to federally mandated busing and comments he made about working with segregationist senators in the 1970s and 1980s. Following this success, her campaign announced that Harris raised $2 million in the 24 hours following her performance. Hayes emphasized Harris’ debate skills in her op-ed.
“During last week’s debate, we watched all the Democratic candidates for President discuss their hopes and plans for our country. …We watched as one candidate in particular had the courage to ask the tough questions and demonstrate the strength to handle difficult situations,” Hayes wrote. “We watched Kamala Harris remind us of how policy directly affects people.”
Twenty high-profile Democrats still remain in the race, according to a count by The New York Times, yet only Harris and Biden have secured the endorsement of a high-profile politician in Connecticut according to an endorsement tracker by FiveThirtyEight.
Other politicians in Connecticut are biding their time, opting to wait longer before making a public endorsement. State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, told the News he is going to wait to see who builds momentum before making a decision.
“It is so important that we get this right and pick the candidate who will be the strongest Democratic opponent to President Trump next year.” Looney said. “It seems to be prudent to wait a little bit longer so that the field sorts itself out and candidates establish some momentum and some sense of having a strong foothold with the general electorate.”
Looney said that the five candidates at the top of the polls — Biden, Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT, and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg — along with former Housing Secretary Julian Castro and Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, are the only politicians with a legitimate chance of winning the nomination.
Sarah Locke, campaign manager for Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, said that DeLauro agreed with this sentiment. Since the Connecticut primary is in April, Locke said, it is too early for DeLauro to issue an endorsement, especially with the field beginning to shrink quickly.
“A month ago, we had 23 candidates, and now we are down to 10.” Locke said. “Our primary will be in the last week of April, still nearly eight months away. It’s still too early in the process.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 told the News that he has been impressed by all of his Senate colleagues in the race — as well as other candidates — so he does not yet want to make an endorsement. Blumenthal said that one of the main criteria he would consider in an eventual endorsement is who will be able to beat President Donald Trump in the general election in November.
Connecticut’s April primary is late in the nomination process, by which time there are historically only a small handful of candidates remaining. But for some Connecticut politicians, like Lamont, an endorsement is about more than just improving the vote share of their preferred candidate in the Connecticut primary.
“The Governor wants to be able to support someone he believes in. He wants that person to have whatever support they need moving forward.” Reiss told the News. “Maybe it’s fundraising, maybe it’s from a policy standpoint, maybe it’s a personal standpoint.”
Connecticut’s Democratic primary for President is on April 28, 2020.
Emmett Shell | firstname.lastname@example.org