All eyes were on the Democrats this weekend as they met for their state convention Friday and Saturday at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. The windowless, concrete floor room was a stark contrast to the Republican convention at Foxwoods.
The Democrats endorsed Ned Lamont for Governor, Susan Bysiewicz for Lieutenant Governor, Shawn Wooden for state treasurer, William Tong for Attorney General, Denise Merrill for Secretary of State, and Kevin Lembo for state Comptroller. Their were no surprises in the race for Governor as Ned Lamont took almost 90% of the vote. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim missed the 15% threshold to qualify for a primary and will continue his petition drive to get on the ballot. Greenwich businessman Guy Smith attended the convention but choose to not be nominated and will try to petition his name onto the August primary.
One week ago, there were no Democrats running for Lieutenant Governor. That changed when Susan Bysiewicz decided to switch her candidacy from Governor to Lieutenant Governor. 31 year old union organizer Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman was the story of the convention receiving around 40% of the vote compared to Bysiewicz’s 59%. Zimmerman was a stranger to many delegates but was able to work the floor at the convention. State Representative Charlie Stallworth, who entered the race Friday, received just over 1% of the delegate vote. Bysiewicz will face Zimmerman in a primary in August.
In the race for Attorney General State Representative William Tong got the party endorsement but will face a primary against former prosecutor Chris Mattei.
The race for treasurer was the most crowded race with four candidates vying for the nomination. Shawn Wooden, the former President of the Hartford City Council, received the endorsement but will face Dita Bhargava and Arunan Arulampalam.
Incumbent Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill were both easily able to receive the endorsement with no primary challengers.
There was a change in the voting for the convention. Instead of each town announcing their votes individually, the head of each town delegation entered the results electronically. This proved to be an issue at first, but party officials were able to solve any problems that existed. The new voting method took away almost all of the excitement from the convention. With no towns announcing their votes aloud, their were prolonged periods of silences as town delegation chairs waited to enter their results on the computer. With almost nothing to do and little to no entertainment some delegates left. When the nominations for State Treasurer began a large portion of delegates had left. The old method of voting where each town would announce where their votes went provided excitement and engagement.
The issue of diversity on the ticket was looming over party members. Many people were unhappy with Ned Lamont’s pick of Susan Bysiewicz as his running mate saying the party needs more diverse candidates. Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman a Puerto Rican union organizer said she brings that diversity to a ticket.
With what is looking to be a crowded primary for the Republicans, the widespread support for Lamont could be beneficial for Democrats. But many Republicans say they are happy with Lamont as the candidate calling Democrats hypocrites for criticizing wealthy self-funded Republican candidates in the past. It is going to be a summer full of television ads and door-knocking with primaries for multiple offices on both sides of the aisle. However, the question is if candidates can get voters to the polls on a hot day in August.