Interviews

Lamont and Bysiewicz team up

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Susan Bysiewicz and Ned Lamont prior to announing  their ticket. (Courtesy: Neil Vigdor)

At a joint press conference in New Haven today, Susan Bysiewicz formally announced that she will be joining Ned Lamont as his running mate. Bysiewicz, who was running for Governor said she thought part unity was important going into the democratic state convention this Saturday. With the exit of Bysiewicz, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and former Veteran Affairs Commissioner Sean Conolly are the only democrats besides Lamont competing in the convention. Businessman Guy Smith will be skipping the convention and is currently trying to petition his way on to the ballot. While they say they are a team, the primary races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor are separate races. There are no other Democrats seeking the Lieutenant Governor nomination, New Haven Senator Gary Winfield has expressed interest in running. Many Democratic insiders were disappointed in the choice of Bysiewicz as Lamont’s running mate saying they wanted a more diverse ticket. Both Bysiewicz and Lamont said they will be committed to building a diverse administration if elected. Bysiewicz, who has served in the State Legislature and as Secretary of the State brings the necessary state government experience to Ned Lamont. The announcement came as a shock to many who were anticipating Bysiewicz to enter an August primary for Governor.

 

Interviews

Republicans endorse Boughton for Governor

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Mark Boughton celebrates after winning the convention endorsement (Courtesy: AP)

After months of waiting and speculation, Mark Boughton won the Republican endorsement at the state convention at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. With a field of 10 candidates it was difficult to know who would make it to the primary. While the state convention is a place where candidates can qualify for the primary, it is really a place for Republicans to gather and hopefully unify for the general election. This was not the case yesterday at Foxwoods. There are 10 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. However, only 8 candidates participated in the convention. Greenwich businessman David Stemerman and Madison businessman Bob Stefanowski choose to bypass the convention and collect 10,000 signatures from registered Republicans to qualify for the primary. The candidates who participated in the convention were Mark Boughton, Mike Handler, Tim Herbst, Mark Lauretti, Peter Lumaj, Steve Obsitnik, Prasad Srinivasan, and David Walker. To qualify for the primary at the convention candidates needed to receive at least 15% of the delegate vote on any of the ballots cast. A change from previous conventions was that in order to move on after the first vote, a candidate needed to receive at least 8% of the vote and 15% after the second vote. As the first ballot was underway candidates were scrambling across the convention floor trying to make deals and retain as well as gain delegate support. After the first ballot the field thinned to 6 people. Mike Handler only received around 4% of the vote and State Representative Prasad Srinivasan missed the threshold by 1 vote with 7.94%. Srinivasan endorsed Tim Herbst for Governor while Handler may try to collect signatures to get to the primary. On this ballot both Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst qualified for the primary. The excitement continued as the second round of voting started. With 6 people remaining it would be a tall order for a candidate to receive the needed 50% for the endorsement on this ballot. The surprise from this ballot was the vote tally of Steve Obsitnik. The Westport tech entrepreneur and Naval veteran was able to receive just under 18% of the vote, qualifying for the August primary. Former US Comptroller General David Walker, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Peter Lumaj were all eliminated in the second ballot. Lauretti is considering a petition drive while Lumaj and Walker ruled out the option. The balloting for Governor began at 1pm and it was approaching 6pm as the third ballot started. Delegates were tired and many wished to spend some time at the casino just steps away. Steve Obsitnik, Mark Boughton, and Tim Herbst all made it to the third ballot. As the third ballot went on it looked like they would have to do a fourth ballot to get an endorsement. This is when the real excitement started. After the third ballot was completed Boughton and Herbst had around 40% each with Obsitnik at 20%. As the rules stated, delegates could switch their vote after the regular voting was complete on the ballot. Slowly Mark Boughton started to gain delegates from Herbst and Obsitnik. Boughton eventually reached 50.14% of the vote which is 1.5 votes more than he needed. In order for Boughton to get the endorsement their needs to be a vote to close balloting for Governor. This is when chaos began. Herbst supporters were yelling “NO” very loud for the vote. In order to see what the vote was the room was cleared of all people besides delegates and media. A standing count vote was done and Boughton received the nomination. The third time was the charm for Boughton who has ran for the office three times now. The endorsement gives Boughton the top spot on the ballot and a lot of momentum. Herbst and Obsitnik also qualified for the August 14th primary. It is expected to be a crowded primary with a few more expected to gather signatures. Democrats are meeting next Friday at the Hartford Convention Center and Saturday for their state convention.

 

Interviews

Ned Lamont Interview

 

On May 7, I had the opportunity to interview Ned Lamont. He is running for Governor and is seen by many as the frontrunner on the democratic side. With his background as a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, he does not strike you as the average democratic candidate. However, he is the most progressive out of all the candidates and has the backing of organizations such as the AFL-CIO as well as the support from New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and Attorney General George Jepsen. In our discussion I asked him why he wants to be Governor. It is a thankless job and involves countless hours with very little breaks. Lamont said he like others to have the same experience he has had in the state. He cites the lack of young people coming to the state as an issue. How is he going to fix that? Well, he says it will take time and will involve focus on our major cities. When asked why a wealthy man from Greenwich like him should be the nominee and how he can relate with the average citizen he said he has it in his heart and cited his work as a teacher at Harding High school in Bridgeport.  When I met Ned Lamont in Woodbridge for the interview I was not surprised how popular he is. Very cordial and friendly he comes off as someone that you would want to talk to and have a conversation with. He is very frank and open and is not afraid to answer the tough questions.

As with all major candidates, he came with a mini entourage. Patty McQueen, who runs Lamont’s communications scheduled the interview. While I was not able to meet her, I was impressed by her roster of clients that has included Al Gore in 2000 as well as Nancy Wyman in 2010. Steve Jensen arrived before Lamont and was one of the nicest staffers I have met while doing various interviews. As we waited for Ned, I had a great conversation with Steve who served as Nancy Wyman’s press secretary for 17 years as Comptroller and Lieutenant Governor and now works for the campaign. Ned arrived with another campaign staffer named Jay Lewis who was very nice and welcoming.

As for most of my interviews, Ned arrived a few minutes late. I will be honest that I have waited much longer for other people who I will not name out of respect. Coming out of this interview, I think Ned Lamont will be the democratic nominee for Governor. While Susan Bysiewicz and Joe Ganim may be there for a primary in August I argue this is Ned’s race to lose. With a toss up for the republican nomination I cannot make a prediction for the general election.