HARTFORD, CT — It may be 19 months before Connecticut elects its next governor, but the number of candidates seems to be growing daily.
On Monday, David M. Walker, of Bridgeport, who served as United States Comptroller General from 1998 to 2008, and founded the Comeback America Initiative, submitted papers to run for the Republican nomination for governor.
Walker, 65, is a senior strategic adviser in the public-sector practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers and was a 2014 candidate for lieutenant governor.
In Connecticut, the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in the primary elections, but then they run together as a ticket in the general election. Walker came in third at the convention behind winner Heather Bond Somers and runner-up Penny Bacchiochi.
“The number one question I was asked when I ran for lieutenant governor,” Walker said in an interview after filing his papers with the State Elections Enforcement Commission Monday morning, “was why wasn’t I running for governor.”
Walker said he decided to take the step to run — now — “because Connecticut needs a transformation, change agent. I am that person; nobody is more qualified to take on the difficult job of righting the state’s sinking ship than me.”
The Connecticut Post reported Monday that Walker, who has had his house on the market since 2014, decided to take it off the market and stay in Connecticut, instead of fleeing.
Connecticut is losing about 575 residents per week to other states, according to U.S. Census data for 2016. Between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, Connecticut’s total resident population fell by 8,278 people.
“We need all hands on deck to turn this ship around,” Walker said, adding that “2018 may be our last chance.”
Walker joins fellow Republicans including Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, and former Coventry Town Councilman Micah Welinktukonis as candidates who have formally filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
According to recent reports filed by the candidates, Srinivasan raised more than $138,000 in the first quarter for 2017 for his gubernatorial run; Herbst raised $83,444. Boughton, who announced his third potential run for governor last November, has raised $91,161 since he got into the race.
Peter Lumaj, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 and Secretary of the State in 2014, opened up an exploratory committee last year. He has not said what statewide office he’s seeking, but as of Monday he had raised about $206,705.
On the Democratic side, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Jacey Wyatt, a former candidate for First Selectman in Branford, have filed their papers to run for governor.
There also has been another half-dozen or so names of potential candidates who have either expressed an interest or have had their names mentioned, but they’ve yet to formally file papers with the state.
Among them is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has yet to state whether he will be running for a third term in 2018.
The whole idea of a third term doesn’t sit well with Walker, who reiterated in his interview Monday that if he’s elected he will push for a two term limit.
“I don’t think he (Malloy) should be allowed to run again,” Walker said.
Walker said his campaign, if he runs, would focus on three main themes: creating jobs and growing the economy; restoring fiscal responsibility; and, lastly, to improve accountability in state government.
“I am more than qualified to take on this challenge,” Walker said, stating his campaign would be a positive one that would also champion the issues of “comprehensive tax reform and restructuring of state employee contracts.”
Asked how he would get workers to agree to give back on contracts, Walker answered: “By being fair” and making sure that contract concessions are agreed to through constructive conversation.
He said additionally he would push the initiatives of “modifying the state education funding formula” in addition to demanding that the state find a way to “find more shared services” to save money.
Walker said he believes the state is ready for change at the top. He said he believed the reason that the Republicans lost to Malloy in 2014 was that the campaign was “anti-Malloy” instead of focused on “positive ideas.”
Asked what he thought of the governor’s proposed two-year budget plan, Walker said he didn’t like the concept that the only way to shore up the state’s financially-starved cities was by taking funding away from the more affluent suburbs.
“We can revitalize our cities, but we don’t have to do it by hurting our smaller towns,” Walker said.
He said in the coming weeks he would be rolling out more specific plans on a website he said would be up and running later in the day Monday, on how to tackle the state’s difficult issues.
He reiterated that he plans to run a “positive, idea oriented” campaign.