Connecticut Democrats will endorse candidates for statewide offices during their statewide convention in Hartford this weekend.
While the Hartford Convention Center as a venue does not have the bells and whistles of Foxwoods, it very well may have more drama on down ballot races than the Republicans had last week.
Connecticut’s Democrats, by and large, have coalesced around Ned Lamont as their nominee for governor. Party brass have been announcing endorsements and previous contenders for the office like Sean Connolly and Jonathan Harris each endorsed Lamont, clearing the way for others in the party like New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary to lend their support to Lamont.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is the person to watch during the convention. Ganim, in his second stint running Connecticut’s largest city, is pursuing a spot on the ballot through collecting signatures. However, the possibility remains that Ganim could receive 15 percent of delegates he needs to achieve a spot on the ballot, which would make his life a lot easier. Ganim’s, “Second Chance” candidacy as he’s called it, has resonated with many in Connecticut’s cities with delegates willing to look past his criminal actions that led to him spending more than six years in federal prison.
Before Tuesday of this week Connecticut Democrats did not have a single candidate filed to run for the number two position in state government. That changed when Susan Bysiewicz announced she would end her bid for governor and join Ned Lamont as his running mate. The “running mate” terminology is almost pointless considering in the primary the office of Lieutenant Governor is a separate ballot line altogether. That means the office could still be up to the voters.
That brings us to one of the surprises of the early campaign season with Eva Bermudez Zimmerman announcing her candidacy. The Bysiewicz announcement angered many of the diverse voices in the party like the NAACP in Connecticut and State Senator Gary Winfield who himself considered a run. Enter Eva. She’s young, only 30 years old, but says she has experience as a member of the Legislative Council in Newtown where she lives, and as a union organizer and negotiator gives her the experience to be lieutenant governor.
State Representative Charlie Stallworth is also looking to make it on to the August primary ballot. He represents Bridgeport in the General Assembly as a Democrat and has aligned with Guy Smith, considered a long shot candidate for governor.
It’s looking like Bysiewicz and Bermudez Zimmerman will secure delegates. It’s a question of who will be the party’s preferred candidate.
The shoes that need to be filled by Connecticut’s next Attorney General are large. George Jepsen is leaving the office after a career in public service in the General Assembly and then in the position of Connecticut’s top law enforcement official.
Those vying to replace him all would bring very similar priorities to the position. There is very little daylight between each of the candidates, despite what they may claim.
Rep. William Tong from Stamford is the most recent chairman of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee on the House side. This could be his best attempt at statewide office coming from Stamford, and he would be Connecticut’s first ever Asian-American endorsed candidate for any statewide office.
Sen. Paul Doyle from Wethersfield is the Senate chairman of the Judiciary Committee and has spent much of his professional career in public office and as a practicing attorney. He’s spoken the most about the crumbling foundations crisis in Connecticut.
Chris Mattei is a Windsor native and former federal prosecutor who sent former Governor John Rowland to prison for the second time. With a background in organized labor, he has firm grassroots support.
Claire Kindall is currently a Deputy Attorney General arguing that she would be a steady hand at the wheel, continuing the legacy of George Jepsen.
This race appears to be rather unpredictable for the August primary ballot, with the possibility of all four candidates finding spots with the minimum of 15 percent delegate support.
The office of Treasurer isn’t the most politically consequential or divisive as other offices, but Democrats can send a statement with their nominee. The policy rhetoric is very similar amongst all four candidates, each placing an onus on providing solid and reliable investment returns for retirees and the state. Arunan Arulampalam is the first generation American son of refugees from Sri Lanka. His story is one of the American dream that’s appealed well to Hartford Democrats, where he lives. Dita Bhargava has an investment banking background from Fairfield County, and would also provide a diverse voice for Democrats. Shawn Wooden is the former President of the Hartford City Council and has high name recognition with many Democrats across Connecticut. Finally, John Blankley is the only white male on the Treasurer line, but he has a successful private industry background. The first three candidates certainly have the edge, and could easily end up with more than one candidate making it into the August primary.