David Walker, a co-founder of the “No Labels” movement who moved to Connecticut in 2009, announced Sunday on WFSB’s “Face the State” that he would explore a run for lieutenant governor.
Walker, who affiliated with the Republican Party last week, will officially announce his exploratory campaign today at the state Capitol in Hartford.
During an interview that aired Sunday, Walker, who served as U.S. Comptroller General for 10 years, said he changed his affiliation from independent to Republican because “if you’re ever going to run for elective office you need to be affiliated with one of the major parties.”
Walker said he had been a Republican for 21 years before changing his affiliation to unaffiliated. He said that being an unaffiliated voter was necessary in order to serve in his capacity as U.S. Comptroller General. He was appointed to that position by former President Bill Clinton, but served as chief auditor in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Walker moved to Connecticut five years ago when he purchased former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays’ house in Bridgeport for $1.5 million, according to property records. During that time he headed an organization called the Comeback America Initiative, which attempted to draw attention to the country’s long-term debt. The organization has since ceased operations, but directs people to Walker’s personal website deficitranger.com.
Last April, he teamed up with Economist Fred Carstensen at the Center for Economic Analysis to write a report titled: “Connecticut At Risk: Will the State Navigate to Prosperity?”
The report concluded that if you add up the unfunded pension liabilities, retiree health care, and bonded debt, the cost per taxpayer in Connecticut is $37,693.
Walker, who has an accounting degree from Jacksonville University, has a strong background in fiscal matters but has never held elected public office. He knows he faces an uphill battle when it comes to fundraising and introductions to Republican Town Committee members, who will decide at the May convention if he proceeds to an August primary.
“Quite frankly, I’m getting in very late in order to be able to qualify for public financing for governor,” Walker told “Face the State” host Dennis House. “I’m not a wealthy person.”
His only other opponent at the moment is state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs.
Bacchiochi said she received a phone call from Walker letting her know he was getting into the race earlier this week. She welcomed him to the race and walked away from the conversation believing that the two see the role of lieutenant governor differently.
“While he wants to help set economic policy in the state, I am well-versed and well-prepared to execute the policy of the governor,” Bacchiochi said Sunday in a phone interview.
Their life experiences also make them different.
Bacchiocchi, who is married to an African-American business man, has been working hard to build the Republican base in the state for more than 12 years. She said she just purchased a home with her husband in Stafford Springs for $106,000, a stark contrast from the $1.5 million Walker spent on his waterfront home in Bridgeport.
“I think that makes it clear what different worlds we are from. Not that his or mine is right or wrong, but we would just fill the role differently,” she said.
Bacchiochi, who has been running for lieutenant governor since last March, is close to raising the $75,000 in small donations she needs in order to qualify for $375,000 in public financing for the primary.
She also pointed out that it’s been 25 years since there was a male in both the lieutenant governor and governor’s office.
“It’s been 25 years since a two-male ticket has won,” Bacchiochi said. “We need to think about gender balance.”
The last time two men held both offices was during former Gov. William A. O’Neill’s administration.
The Republican Party has struggled with building up a constituency in urban areas. The Democratic Party in New Haven alone delivered more than 22,000 votes for Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman in 2010. Democrats hold all five Congressional Districts and both Senate seats in the state. Bacchiochi believes being married to an African-American helps her understand firsthand the experiences of minorities.
“I believe in the principles of the Republican Party,” Walker said Sunday. “I’m a fiscal conservative and social moderate. I think I’m in line with a majority of the people in this state and we’ll find out soon.”
Candidates for lieutenant governor run separately from gubernatorial candidates until after the August primary. The candidate for lieutenant governor with the most votes is then paired with the gubernatorial candidate with the most votes prior to the general.
In 2010, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was running as lieutenant governor on Michael Fedele’s gubernatorial ticket. Fedele lost the primary to Tom Foley and Boughton was then paired with Foley for the general election in November.
In 2006, Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman ran with then-Mayor Dan Malloy, who lost the Democratic nomination to former New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
DeStefano’s running-mate was West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka, who was defeated by Glassman in the primary.