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August 13, 2018

CT primary to narrow crowded gubernatorial candidates field

PHOTO | David Stemerman via Twitter The five GOP candidates during a recent debate at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

After months of political rousing, voters will be heard Tuesday at the ballot box as they select the final candidates vying to become Connecticut’s 89th governor.

With Democratic incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy deciding not to run for a third term, the 2018 Connecticut gubernatorial race features a large cast of veteran municipal leaders and businessmen who will soon take on the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit.

A field of five Republican candidates includes Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton; former financial executive Bob Stefanowski; former hedge fund manager David Stemerman; former Trumbull first selectman Tim Herbst; and technology entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik.

Mark Boughton, who received the party’s nomination earlier this year, and Stefanowski have pledged to eliminate the 1991-enacted state income tax, which represents over half of the state budget's General Fund.

Boughton has said he would phase out the income tax over a decade and Stefanowski says he would eliminate the measure in less time, replacing lost revenue with savings from state employees and reorganizing state agencies.

Stemerman, who is self funding most of his campaign, in addition to Stefanowski, says he would reduce the income tax and has pledged greater investments in transportation and higher education.

Herbst and Obstinik have also pledged significant tax cuts and to reduce the income, corporate and estate taxes to spur Connecticut’s economic revival.

Meantime, Obstinik has said the state should focus on tax relief for businesses and its working class to boost Connecticut’s economy.

Boughton has the most GOP support heading into Tuesday’s primary, according to an online poll released last week. Of the 1,151 self-identified and registered Republicans surveyed by Tremont Public Advisors, 31 percent said they favored the Danbury mayor. Trailing were Stefanowski (21.5 percent), David Stemerman (17 percent), Herbst (15.6 percent) and Obsitnik (11.4 percent).

Democratic ticket

One the Democratic side, the race pits party endorsed Ned Lamont, a Greenwich businessman, vs. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.

Lamont, who is also running a mostly self-funded campaign, supports raising the minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 per hour and has been outspoken about shrinking the wage gap for women and increasing paid family and medical leave. Lamont says women lose $15 billion annually to the gender wage gap.

Lamont also supports largest education investments through comprehensive reform that expands access to childcare and early childhood schooling. He also prioritizes growing workforce development programs and making the first two years of public college tuition free for Connecticut students who are committed to staying in the state.

Ganim, who served seven years in prison for his part in a kickback scheme as Bridgeport mayor, has placed job growth as his top priority if elected. As governor, he said he would make large investments in Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure to create thousands of jobs and proposed changing tax and zoning laws to make municipalities more attractive business hubs.

Ganim, the youngest Bridgeport mayor elected in 1991, also supports a $15 minimum wage, leveling the gender pay gap and expanding paid family and medical leave.

He is backing criminal justice reform, calling for an end to minority targeting and supports equipping police officers with body cameras. Ganim has said the state must prioritize inmate rehabilitation over incarceration.

The Democratic candidates are attempting maintain the governor’s chair the party has held for much of the last decade since Malloy was elected in 2010.

Prior to Malloy’s term, the last Democratic governor was William O’Neill, who served from 1980 to 1991.

The independent

Also a possible contender for the gubernatorial race this fall is independent candidate Oz Griebel, who is the former head of the MetroHartford Alliance.

The Hartford Courant reported over the weekend that Griebel has submitted more than 10,000 signatures to try to get on the November ballot. He needs 7,500 verified signatures to qualify to run for the state’s highest office.

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