Businessman Bob Stefanowski certainly speaks like he is the candidate to beat in the five-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
"I think when you're in the lead like I am, people are going to come at you,” he said during an interview at his Branford campaign headquarters.
Stefanowski boasts an internal poll that he says showed him with a 15 point lead on the field, which is why, says Stemerman, one of the GOP challengers paid for attack ads against him at such an early stage.
“The ads clearly didn’t work, Stefanowski said. “Why would you only have it up for a week and then pull it?”
The Madison resident has run an unconventional campaign in the land of steady habits. He bypassed participating in the party’s nominating convention back in May, has been running television ads since the start of the year, and is funding his campaign through private donations and with his own money as opposed to applying for the Citizens Election Program.
“$25,000 a day?” Stefanowski asked. “That’s not for me.”
What Stefanowski says the state needs is tax relief, and he has the boldest effort in the field of Republicans looking to become governor. He says he can scale back the income tax over the next eight years, ending with a phase out. The endorsed Republican, Danbury’s Mayor Mark Boughton, has pledged to phase out the income tax over the next decade, if elected.
The income tax is the single biggest revenue generator in the state of Connecticut, bringing in close to $9 billion each year, which accounts for nearly half of all revenues.
Stefanowski says replacing that revenue will come from a combination of economic growth and spending cuts.
Stefanowski said, "If I can get some cost cuts, and I can use those to fund a tax cut, that will increase tax revenues and we'll look at it and if revenues are increasing more than we think, we'll cut taxes more.”
But what Stefanowski does not account for is that without the income tax, the state will become more reliant on other taxes that are either regressive in nature or unreliable over recent years.
He said the state will utilize revenues from sales taxes as a result of higher consumer confidence due to lower income taxes, and revenues from the state’s two tribally run casinos to fill the gap caused by phasing out the income tax.
“We have a sales tax, we've got gaming in this state. We'll have more jobs coming in,” Stefanowski said. “I'm not telling you they're going to increase or they're going to decrease, I'm telling you they're another source of revenue for the state.”
The other attack that has come Stefanowski has to do with his Democratic registration as early as last year, and his lack of civic involvement for having not voted in years as he lived overseas.
He says he was laser focused on assisting UBS while living in London, and said his time as a Democrat has nothing to do with how he would run the state. He even made a comparison to the current president.
"Donald Trump was a Democrat longer than me,” Stefanowski said. “Look at what Donald Trump has done for this nation in terms of somebody who knows how to negotiate, somebody who knows how to recut all of the lousy deals from people before him. We can use some of that in Connecticut and m background will bring us right where we need to go."