Accompanied by a small group of supporters Nancy Wyman walked from the state Capitol to the state Elections Enforcement Commission office Tuesday to file her public financing application.
In her trademark high-heels Wyman, who is serving her fourth term as state comptroller, submitted the paperwork to show she raised the $75,000 in qualifying contributions for the lieutenant governor‘s race.
Grinning ear-to-ear, Wyman said her campaign raised the $75,000 in small donations from 1,120 individuals over a period of five weeks. The state Elections Enforcement Commission is expected to approve Wyman‘s $375,000 grant at its next meeting.
“Now I can go and do what I need to do,” Wyman said. “The fact that we were able to do it in five weeks is unbelievable.”
Before the Citizens’ Election Program Wyman said she spent hours on the phone “dialing for dollars” which is candidate slang for fundraising.
Wyman is running with former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, who was the first gubernatorial candidate to qualify for public funding under the Citizens‘ Election Program. Wyman pointed out that she’s the first candidate for lieutenant governor to qualify.
The use of the states public financing system, which is currently being challenged in court, has been an issue in the Democratic primary. It has become a distinct difference between Malloy and his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont.
Lamont, a wealthy Greenwich cable executive, opted out of the system because he didn’t want to fight one of the three Republican candidates in November with “one arm tied behind my back.” Lamont’s running mate Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman is using the public financing system to raise money for her campaign.
Candidates for lieutenant governor stand independently before the voters in the primary. In November the ticket for governor and lieutenant governor are combined.
Wyman, a Tolland resident, said she’s not a millionaire and believes the trend should be toward public financing. She said this way nobody can tell her later on that she’s been bought by a special interest group.
Glassman’s campaign manager, C.D. Chebon Marshall, said Glassman will apply for the public financing grant in July.
“Mary has raised the necessary small grassroots contributions to qualify for a Citizens’ Election Program grant and she will be filing her request in July,“ Marshall said.
Asked if the Lamont campaign was sending a mixed message with one candidate opting out and the other opting in, Wyman replied: “Is there a mixed message? I’m not really sure.”
“We just don’t want to go out there and allow people to buy an election,” Wyman said. “It would knock out 95 percent of the people in the state who might not think about running.”
Lamont and Malloy went toe-to-toe on the issue Tuesday during their first televised debate as Glassman and Wyman watched from the second-floor of the studio.
“Look Dan and I have a difference of opinion on public financing of elections, but we both believe strongly in clean elections,” Lamont said. And while he’s not participating in the public financing system, Lamont argued it doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in the premise.
“I’m not taking any money from PACs. I’m not taking any money from lobbyists. I’m not taking any money from people doing business with the state of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “I’ll be nobody’s man but yours.”
Malloy countered by explaining that small money donations under the public finance system mean raising less than $100 per person., but under Lamont‘s system of raising money “he can write checks in an amount as great as I guess about $2 million,“ Malloy said.
“I want to be the first governor who has a different agenda,“ said Malloy. “An agenda that’s set by the people who want a fresh start in the state of Connecticut, and have a governor who is not owing anything to anyone.”
Lamont countered that “these spending caps don’t work unless both sides are playing by the same rules.” At least two of the Republican candidates have opted out.
“The issues confronting the state of Connecticut are so important,” Lamont said. “For Dan the public financing seems to be the number one issue confronting the state of Connecticut, for me it’s fighting for your job and making sure your neighbor can get a job.”
Glassman also challenged Wyman and the two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor to debates this week.
Wyman and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said they would be delighted to debate Glassman. Wyman went as far as to ask for 17 debates, just as Malloy did last month. Glassman said that’s about two debates a week until the Aug. 10 primary.
“Let’s go,” Glassman said.
“Let’s do it,” Boughton replied Tuesday.
Lisa-Foley Wilson, the other Republican running for lieutenant governor, did not respond to a request for comment on Glassman’s debate challenge.