Bob Stefanowski, a Madison businessman and Republican who ran against Gov. Ned Lamont in 2018, is going to run for governor again.
This comes after a narrow loss to Lamont four years ago.
NBC Connecticut's Mike Hydeck spoke with Stefanowski about his second run for governor.
Mike: "So as you announced your bid this week, you put $10 million of your own money into the campaign, you're serious about this run. Why do you want to be governor?"
Stefanowski: "Well, I've been looking over the last three years. And to me, it's been a continuation of what we've seen in Hartford for decades now, which is the politicians putting themselves and their political careers and their own interests ahead of the people of Connecticut. And I grew up in Connecticut, I was born in New Haven, I've had opportunities to be successful here. My parents didn't have a lot of money, but they invested in an education for myself and my three sisters, and we've got a plan, we're going to put the people first, we've got a lot of energy just in the past couple days around the campaign. And we're going to put the people first, we're going to get the cost of living down, we're going to get people to feel safer. And we're going to bring back accountability in government, and we're going to turn the state around, Mike."
Mike: "Okay, so this week, when you announced you mentioned the cost of health care out of control in Connecticut, there are very few people who would argue with that. We however, though, are in a unique position in our state. Trying to get costs in line can be difficult when much of the insurance industry is based here in Connecticut. And when a public option was discussed, the CEOs of the major insurance companies wrote Governor Lamont implying that they would actually leave the state if a public option went through. If you were governor, how would you handle something like this, to try to get health care costs down?"
Stefanowski: "Well, I think more options for people are better than less. Certainly, in my experience, certainly with the government, whether it's the Department of Motor Vehicles or healthcare, is they're not very good at running anything. My family is now part of ConnectiCare, Mike, and I gotta tell you, you need a PhD to be able to figure out the options and the prices and the co-pays. We need to provide more flexibility. I think the private sector should be part of that answer. If there is a government option, that's fine, but it should be affordable, it should be good care. And people should have more choices right now, because it's becoming too much of a burden on families of Connecticut, to pay their health care costs and still get by."
Mike: "I agree with you, trying to read any of the options is difficult. It's either legal ease, or it has to do with healthcare ease that the average person can't understand. First, would you try to make that language simpler so people can understand? And I want to be clear, are you saying that you are for the possibility of a public option as well."
Stefanowski: "I would prefer to have it privately-managed in the private sector. And if we can provide enough competition by doing that, I think you'd get the private sector first. If we do have a public option, I think it would be a second step. But if we do have one, it can't be what it is right now. Which is you're paying massive premiums, you've got massive prescription deductions. It took us days, my wife and I, days to figure out whether you want the blue, the blue plan, the gold plan, the red plan. People are busy, Mike, they're not really asking for a lot. They're asking for affordable, safe health care that they can understand. This governor and his administration have absolutely failed at providing that. And it's one of the first things we need to look at."
Mike: "So earlier this month, we talked to the leader of the state police union, after a study showed that morale was down here in the ranks of state police in Connecticut, and they linked it to some of the police reforms that were enacted after George Floyd's death. In your opinion, does that legislation need to be changed? And if so, what would you recommend?"
Stefanowski: "Well, certainly the Police Accountability Bill that Governor Lamont signed into law needs to be revised. If you recall, when the state Democrats passed that, they said 'trust us, we'll pass it now and fix it later.' Well, it's never been revisited. One of the big issues is we took away qualified immunity from police officers and any police officer that does something wrong, and steps across the line, that person needs to be held accountable to the full extent of the law. But my experience is although it happens, and it's tragic, it's the minority of police officers that do that. The rest of our law enforcement need the tools to do the job properly. They need the funding to keep people safe. And you've got a situation right now, just as one example is that the police are afraid to get involved in any high speed chase whatsoever because of the implications if something bad happens, they're asked. That's their home. Their kids' savings are now liable for that. And police officers are out there putting their life on the line for us every day. Again, they've got to play by the rules, but those police officers that do, we owe it to those officers. We owe it to ourselves to do everything we possibly can to help them make us safe."
Mike: "Last question, dealing with COVID has been a bear for all leaders, local, state, national, and God forbid we're dealing with this again in January 2023. If you happen to be in the Governor's Office, where are you going to seek advice on science policy, even supply chain issues?"
Stefanowski: "We should take more input from the Legislature, we shouldn't have a governor with seven extension of powers, when today we've got the highest infection rate, or last week, that we've seen in the history of COVID. What he's doing is not working. One thing that's clear, Mike, with respect to COVID, one size does not fit all. Seventy, 65, 70% of the deaths are in people over the age of 65. We should not be putting infected patients into nursing homes right now. It's dangerous, those are our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, we're introducing a virus into the highest risk element of the population. Governor Lamont should stop that tomorrow. And we should be keeping the people in nursing homes safe."
Republican Susan Patricelli Regan is also running for governor and former Republican Leader Themis Klarides has filed paperwork to explore a run for governor.
The primary election will take place on Aug. 9.
Lamont, who took office in January 2019, filed paperwork in November to run for re-election.