HARTFORD, CT —(Updated 3:20 p.m.) State Comptroller Kevin Lembo has always maintained that he would get out of the governor’s race if Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman decided to run, but he said Thursday that’s not why he decided to end his gubernatorial bid and run for re-election.
In a phone interview, Lembo said his decision had nothing to do with Wyman. It was a “gut-check.”
He said he was always exploring a run for governor and while he was able to find the political and financial support, he decided he really loved doing what he’s doing as state comptroller.
“Sometimes the grass isn’t greener,” Lembo said.
Lembo said his five-month journey for governor has reinforced and reminded him about what he’s most passionate about: “a health care system and a state financial and economic system that works for everyone.”
Lembo was first elected to state comptroller in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. He was probably the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the field with statewide name recognition.
He said he knows his decision is going to disappoint some supporters, but he knows it’s the right decision.
As state comptroller, Lembo said he wants to work as a team to help re-imagine this state as a place where “we spend less time debating who to tax and where to cut, and more time recognizing who we need to grow: the middle class.
“I’m passionate about this work and I have done my best to prove my determination and ability to stand up and speak out for an open and accountable government,” Lembo said. “Connecticut, with all of its financial struggles, is a place of great potential — in its people, its workforce and its values. This state was never meant to be the rest stop between New York and Boston but, rather, the economic engine of New England. That reality remains within our grasp.”
Lembo was one of a handful of Democratic candidates exploring a run for governor. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew was the first to get into the race and is a full-fledged candidate, along with Bridgeport Mayor Joe Gamin. Former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei and former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris are exploring their own gubernatorial bids. Harris said he also would bow out if Wyman decided to run.
A spokesperson for Wyman said Thursday that she is still considering her options.
The Republican Governor’s Association said Lembo’s decision to drop out of the race is an indication “of how great a challenge it will be to run on the eight year record of failures under Dan Malloy and the Democrats’ leadership.”
Nick Balletto, chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said “the Democratic Party will have a strong field in next year’s gubernatorial race with every candidate committed to leading the fight against the most extreme policies coming from Donald Trump and his Republican allies while making the tough choices necessary to move Connecticut forward.”
He said the Republican gubernatorial candidates “continue to hide in the corner when it comes to speaking out on issues that affect each of our residents’ lives and the future we hope to leave our children.”
There are more than a handful of Republican candidates vying for their party’s nomination.