Lamont Jumps Into Governor’s Race
HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 2:17 p.m.) His candidacy didn’t catch fire in 2010, but Ned Lamont, the progressive Democrat from Greenwich will try again in 2018.
Lamont plans for file his paperwork to run for governor Wednesday.
Lamont, 64, lost the Democratic primary in 2010 to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. In interviews following his loss that year, Lamont said their internal polls had him beating Malloy, but were based on 32 percent voter turnout. That year only 25 percent of Democrats turned out to vote in the primary.
“If I don’t give you a reason to get out and vote, I deserve to fail,” Lamont said back in Sept. 2010.
That was four years after Lamont’s campaign for U.S. Senate attracted national attention for capturing the anti-war sentiment, which helped him beat former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in a Democratic primary. Lieberman went on to win the 2006 General Election.
Since then Lamont has returned to be chairman of Lamont Digital Systems, the college cable company he founded and has run for over 25 years. He’s also spent time teaching at Central Connecticut State University, Harding High in Bridgeport, and has lectured at Yale University.
“Business people are measured by their results and Connecticut needs results right now; we’ve got to change how we do business,” Lamont said in a statement Wednesday. “More good-paying jobs, more companies moving into Connecticut that attract talent, more leaders willing to come together to find common ground, fix our budget, and get our state moving again. We have serious issues to address and our leaders will need to tell the truth about how we are going to solve our biggest problems.”
The 2010 Democratic primary was so bitter between Lamont and Malloy that almost anyone who supported Lamont was not welcomed into Malloy’s administration as he became the first Democratic governor elected in 20 years.
This year, Lamont will be the eighth Democratic candidate to get into the race. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew ended his campaign last week leaving only seven Democrats in the race with former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz considering getting in.
Lamont, a self-described “progressive” Democrat who has never held elected office, says in a campaign video that Connecticut has been “failed by the political class,” for 30 or 40 years.
Repeating phrases from both his previous campaigns, Lamont said “I think Connecticut’s headed in the wrong direction.”
“We’re not creating new jobs. Folks are working harder and harder and taking care of your kids is getting more expensive,” Lamont said.
It was a refrain he repeated over and over again during his 2010 campaign.
He said he’s running for governor because he believes in this state and “I want you to believe in the state too.”
The first thing Lamont would do as governor is seek legislative approval for a $15 minimum wage, and “decent healthcare for everybody.”
He said he would also invest in job training so that people would have the “skill sets for the 21st Century. “ And said he’s interested in passing Paid Family and Medical Leave legislation, which Democrats have tried and failed to get over the finish line the past three years.
“We’re going the wrong direction in Washington D.C. right now we’re going to start going in the right direction here in Connecticut,” Lamont says in the video.
Quinnipiac University Political Science Professor Scott McLean said Wednesday that Lamont is different than the rest of the Democratic candidates in the race.
McLean said Lamont has statewide name recognition from his two previous statewide runs and he hasn’t held elected office before so he can say he hasn’t created the current fiscal mess.
In addition, Lamont has the resources for a competitive campaign.
In 2010, Lamont spent about $9 million on the race and has said he has no regrets about doing that.
Publicly financed candidates will receive $1.4 million for a primary if they are nominated by party members at the convention in May and if they succeed at that they will receive $6.5 million for the General Election. All of the candidates, except Guy Smith of Greenwich, have been using the Citizens Election Program.
Lamont said Wednesday that he intends to raise more small money donations that any of the other candidates.
Asked if he planned to hire Revolution Messaging, the company that helped U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders capture small donations through the Internet during his presidential bid, Lamont said they did a good job with Sanders.
The company was founded by Scott Goodstein, who had helped run then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama’s pioneering online operation in 2008 on his way to the presidency.
The company includes people like Tim Tagaris, who helped Connecticut understand the power of the Internet in 2006 when he helped Lamont defeat Lieberman in the Democratic primary. Tagaris had been working closely with former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei’s operation, when Mattei was a candidate for governor.
In 2010, Malloy had the backing of labor.
Lamont said he would fight for collective bargaining and hopes to have labor’s backing this time around.
“I’m not out of central casting. I started up business and I think people know who I am,” Lamont said.
It might have been the Lamont’s negative advertisements against Malloy that actually lost him support and depressed voter turnout that year.