Former Consumer Protection Commissioner, Connecticut Democratic Party leader, and State Senator Jonathan Harris announced he would drop his bid for governor, Friday, and threw his support to businessman Ned Lamont.
The move provides another shot of momentum to Lamont’s campaign, as the Connecticut Democratic Party is three weeks away from its nominating convention in Hartford.
“It is with great pride today that I endorse Ned and offer my help to him to be the next governor of Connecticut,” Harris told reporters during a press conference at the Connecticut State Capitol.
The discussions between Harris and Lamont over the endorsement appear to have been brief, and Harris noted that the two have spoken at length over the past few months as they have intended numerous forums across Connecticut.
The support for Lamont, Harris hopes, sends a message to other candidates looking to keep Connecticut’s governor’s office in Democratic hands for the next four years.
“I think we need to become united now and focus on winning in November and we want to win not just to win, but we want to win because we want to govern,” Harris said. “We have to keep this state blue. We cannot become a red right to work state. That’s not the direction we want to go in.”
By picking up Harris’ support, it provides a link from Lamont to the administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy, something Lamont said does not scare him.
“Look, Dan Malloy inherited a mess and I’m not sitting around blaming Dan Malloy. I’m not talking about where we’ve been. I’m talking about where we’re going and I think I’m the candidate who gives us the best chance to talk about where we’re going.”
The race for governor appears to be thinning before candidates arrive at the Democrats’ convention next month. Multiple sources within the state Democratic establishment have told NBC Connecticut that they view the race as being a three-way-contest among Lamont, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.
Each could conceivably emerge with the requisite 15 percent of committed delegates to secure access on the August primary ballot.
Ganim said in a statement of Harris leaving the race to endorse Lamont, “I like Jonathan and wish him well. But the withdrawal of Jonathan Harris from the governor’s race does not fundamentally change this race.”
Bysiewicz also released a statement, saying, “I thank Jonathan for contributing important ideas to these discussions as well as for his long service as an elected official, commissioner and Democratic Party executive director.”