CHESHIRE, CT — In what could be viewed as an unconventional move, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, announced Wednesday that he was naming a freshman state representative as his running mate.
Rep. Liz Linehan, a former town councilor who has aligned herself with the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, will seek the nomination for lieutenant governor.
Linehan won her election last November for an open seat by 77 votes. She represents Cheshire and parts of Wallingford and Southington.
“I know it’s unusual to choose a candidate for Lieutenant Governor this early, but our campaign has never been about doing things the way others have done them before,” Drew said during their announcement at Consolidated Industries, a Cheshire manufacturer.
He added: “I’m tired of convention and I’m tired of hearing ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’. The way we’ve always done it does not work.”
Drew was the first to announce his intention to run for governor, even before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he wouldn’t seek a third-term.
Linehan doesn’t bring much in the way of name recognition to the ticket, but she’s a tough campaigner who can also help Drew finish raising the $250,000 he needs to qualify for public financing. As of July, Drew has raised $177,000 from nearly 2,000 donors. But when he changed over officially to a gubernatorial committee he started from scratch.
Even though they can combine some fundraising, the two said they would be raising funds separately for now.
There’s also no guarantee that Linehan and Drew will be matched up for the November 2018 general election because in Connecticut lieutenant governor candidates run on their own in a primary.
In 2006, Democratic primary voters paired Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, who had been running with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, who bested Malloy in the Democratic primary that year. DeStefano had been running with former West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka that year.
On the Republican side in 2014, Heather Somers, who is now a state Senator from Groton, had been running with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. But shortly after the Republican convention she decided to sever her ties with Boughton and run on her own. Republican primary voters chose her over former state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi and David Walker that year.
This year, Walker is running for the Republican nomination for governor along with Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst. Boughton is exploring another run for governor and Peter Lumaj and Steven Obsitnik are each also exploring a run for unspecified statewide offices.
On the Democratic side, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo surprised many by announcing he would no longer be exploring a run for governor and would instead run for re-election to his current office. That leaves Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman has said as recently as last week that she’s still exploring her options.
Following the announcement, Drew and Linehan took questions from reporters, and Drew bristled slightly at questions about politics.
He said he chose Linehan, 43, who he has known for about a year, because he believes in her ability to govern and her ability to identify with “the lives of people in Connecticut.”
In accepting Drew’s offer to run, Linehan talked about her husband’s cancer diagnosis and the relief she felt when they recently confirmed he was still cancer free. Linehan also touted the four bills she was able to get passed as a freshman lawmaker. Three were signed by the governor and most of them addressed protections for middle class workers.
Drew said a lot of the questions reporters were asking were about politics, but this decision for him was about governing and “how to improve Connecticut and how to improve life for the people of Connecticut.”
Drew said he would be supportive of a tax increase on Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens.
“Somehow the Republicans have made supporting working people a dirty word,” Drew said.
He said why are we talking about cutting services for the developmentally disabled and then borrowing money to give to hedge funds and large corporations?
“We will challenge these notions that we have to subjugate our own economic freedom for the prosperity of other people for us all to be successful,” Drew said.