Promising much more of a private sector approach and a campaign that’s all about entrepreneurship, R. Nelson ‘Oz‘ Griebel, 60, announced his candidacy for governor Thursday on the north steps of the state Capitol.
As a crowd of supporters held homemade signs behind him, Griebel said he’s running for the Republican nomination after spending a lifetime in the private sector because “leadership is needed in this state.”
“Last night our president indicated that Washington has a deficit of trust. I would say that Connecticut has been facing a deficit of confidence,” Griebel said in his stump speech. “Our job here over the next several months and over the next four years is to restore that confidence. Take advantage of the opportunities we have and address the significant challenges head on.“
Some of those challenges Griebel outlined in his speech include: the state’s anti-business reputation and fiscal chaos.
If elected, Griebel said he would become the state’s chief economic development and chief opportunity officer focusing on creating an environment where the private sector wants to grow.
“You can’t be for jobs and against business so creating an environment here where businesses want to come, where they want to invest, where they want to expand, where they want to start is absolutely critical,” Griebel said. In this economy if Connecticut doesn’t have a “hungry governor, 49 other states will be happy to eat our lunch.”
If elected, Griebel promised to submit a budget that addresses the state’s structural deficits, which are estimated at $3 billion in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
“I don’t think we can just solve this problem by saying we’ll cut programs or raise taxes without looking at and thinking about things differently,” Griebel said.
He said he would look at transitioning defined benefit pensions to 401K type retirement plans for state employees and elected officials to save money in future budget.
Ideally he would also get together immediately with the legislature after the 2010 election to get a budget together and pass it by April 15, so municipalities know what the state will be giving them.
Griebel said he thinks it will take all four years to straighten out the state budget problems the state is facing. And he didn’t limit himself to one four year term, he did say he wouldn’t worry about polls or reelection once in office.
“I will be happy to consider reelection four years from now, but that’s not why I’m running for office,“ Griebel said.
As for the campaign, Griebel will not be participating in public campaign financing, but he’s also not independently wealthy enough to throw millions of dollars into his own campaign.
“We’ll run an old fashioned retail politics campaign,” Griebel said. “Understanding that it’s not dollars that buy votes, it’s ideas.”
Hitting the ground running Griebel already visited a diner in Torrington before coming to Hartford Thursday afternoon and will end the day in Stamford greeting commuters returning home from work.
Griebel joins an already crowded field on the Republican side that include Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, former Congressman Larry DeNardis, and Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh.
At least 17 people from both political parties say they’re running or considering running for governor.