Andrew Cline via Shutterstock
The governor’s reserved parking space at the Connecticut State House in Hartford (Andrew Cline via Shutterstock)

HARTFORD, CT — Now that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has announced he won’t seek a third term, a number of Democratic hopefuls who have been waiting for an opportunity to succeed the governor are essentially cleared for takeoff.

Malloy’s announcement Thursday also gives Republican candidates who have already announced their intention to run for the seat a chance to distinguish themselves from a pack that doesn’t include the unpopular governor.

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris was the only one of the potential Democratic candidates to attend Malloy’s announcement Thursday. Harris said he had nothing to declare, but the former executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party said he wouldn’t consider running if Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman wanted the seat.

Malloy praised Wyman as the “best” lieutenant governor at least twice during his announcement.

Wyman has yet to announce her plans.

However, Chris Mattei, the former federal prosecutor who sent former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland to prison the second time, was quick to email a statement to reporters praising Malloy for his leadership on paid sick leave, the minimum wage, and gun safety.

Mattei, who is considering entering the race for governor and would be vying for the Democratic nomination, said he will make a decision in the coming days.

Democratic State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who has at times butted heads with Malloy and his administration, has also expressed an interest in running for the post, but would also step aside if Wyman were to run.

Lembo released a two-sentence statement Thursday following Malloy’s announcement, wishing Malloy and his family the very best.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew is the only Democratic candidate to officially announce he’s seeking the nomination.

Other Democratic mayors eyeing the seat include New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.

Harp launched a PAC last year that could serve as the basis for a gubernatorial bid, according to the New Haven Independent. And Ganim is asking permission from state regulators to participate in the Citizens Election Program. Because Ganim is a convicted felon, he’s not allowed to participate.

Republicans have been lining up since 2014 to run for governor and the field is getting more crowded by the week.

There’s Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who is making his third run, along with Glastonbury Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, David Walker, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, and Peter Lumaj, who is running for statewide office but hasn’t said whether he will seek the governor’s office.

And those are just the candidates who have already filed their paperwork with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Others who have expressed interest in running include former Senate Republican John McKinney, former congressman Joe Scarborough (who now hosts Morning Joe on MSNBC), Senate Republican President Len Fasano of North Haven, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides of Derby.

Almost every candidate for statewide office has been using the Citizens Election Program, which means they have to raise $250,000 in qualifying funds to receive a $1.4 million primary grant and $6.5 million for the general election.

Ideally, each would want to qualify for those grants before the May 2018 convention. That means they have about 12 months to raise $250,000 if they haven’t gotten into the race yet. This comes out to more than $20,000 per month if they announce this week.