Hugh McQuaid photo

Martha Dean began what she expects will be an adversarial gubernatorial campaign Tuesday night with a far-ranging speech at Hartford’s Old State House where she framed herself as a persecuted but resilient candidate.

Dean, an Avon lawyer and two-time Republican nominee for Attorney General, advocated for some policy initiatives during her address to about two dozen supporters. She called for repealing the state income tax, ending public sector unions, and establishing tolls to pay for repairs to roads and bridges.

But Dean also took the unconventional step of voluntarily bringing up controversial elements of her past in a speech designed to kick off her late entry into an already crowded field of Republican gubernatorial candidates.

“You’re going to hear in this campaign, my opponents bring out some of the adversity that I’ve been through and I just want to tell you that there is nothing you could ask me that I won’t answer . . . but there’s nothing I’m ashamed of, there’s nothing I feel I did wrong,” she said.

Dean told supporters they would hear terrible things said about her, “most of which are not true.”

She cited controversy that occurred in early 2013 when she posted a video on Facebook suggesting the Newtown shootings were staged, prompting criticisms from Republicans and Democrats.

“No, I never did say that I agreed about a Newtown hoax,” she said Tuesday. “That’s completely fabricated.”

Dean also referenced a long and difficult court fight with her ex-husband over custody of her son. She said the case has been resolved satisfactorily, but that it took eight years longer than it should have and she was unnecessarily persecuted.

“[People] are going to hear that I am ‘Crazy Martha,’ you know, I saw that in the court system, the family court system. I step in after the 2010 race and I was treated like the worst of the worst that could possibly exist in Connecticut,” she said.

She compared her experiences in court to discrimination experienced by immigrants, Black Americans, elderly people, and other groups. She said it was “incredibly vicious” and painful.

“That is what government does when it’s out of control and if I am governor we’re not going to tolerate it,” she said.

Dean also took aim at the state’s reporters and columnists, whom she said had a “macabre interest” in her candidacy. She asked her supporters to call out any media outlet that prints “despicable” things about her.

“This is going to sell a lot of papers. It will, because people in Connecticut, much like the Romans back in the time of the gladiators . . . [when] it was entertainment to see people ripped apart limb-by-limb and killed. And it is entertainment in Connecticut, in the media to do the same,” she said.

Dean described what she sees as her adversity at length but said she felt called to run in this year’s gubernatorial race by God. Dean said she believed she was put here to “be a true blessing for Connecticut.”

“I can stand here today and say I’m broken but every time I’m knocked down I get up. That’s what we’re asked to do: we’re called to run the race, we’re called to get up . . . I’m not done being knocked down but I’m going to get up until I draw my last breath and I am not fishing for votes, I’m fishing for souls,” she said.

Dean joins former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and Joe Visconti of West Hartford in the race for the Republican nomination.

Dean announced her intention to run for the nomination last week on her Facebook page. The news was quickly spread by the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a group of Second Amendment supporters, who were excited about her entrance into the race. Dean has been helping the group with their lawsuit against the state which last year passed stricter gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Dean addressed the group last week and explained why she decided to get into the race when she did, and why she planned on using the state’s public campaign finance system, which she declined to use in 2010.

In the video, Dean said if she doesn’t win the Republican convention convincingly it’s not likely she would continue to a primary.