courtesy of his campaign website
Guy Smith (courtesy of his campaign website)

HARTFORD, CT — The former commissioner of Veterans Affairs and a former executive from Greenwich jumped into the race for governor Tuesday.

Sean Connolly, a Democrat from Hebron, made his campaign for governor official Tuesday at an American Legion post in Hebron.

He said people believe opportunity in Connecticut is “slipping away.” He said Connecticut is “in a crisis,” and as governor he would work to reverse that trend.

Connolly said the economy will be his top priority, and that’s why he used the Hebron event to release his 16-page economic plan, which involves reorganizing the Department of Economic and Community Development, support for electronic tolls, and establishment of a Connecticut Infrastructure Bank.

Guy Smith, a former executive at Diageo in Norwalk and an advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton at various times over the past several years, announced his candidacy Tuesday at the Reginald Mayo Early Childhood School in New Haven.

Smith said Wednesday he doesn’t plan on using public financing during his first attempt at running for elected office, but believes he’s uniquely situated to handle the state’s financial situation.

“Hartford is sadly just not getting it done,” Smith said.

The next governor, according to the budget adopted by the legislature last October, is expected to inherit a two-year budget with a $4.3 billion deficit if the legislature and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy do nothing to fix it this year.

“I’m not going to raise taxes,” Smith said. “We need to spend money more wisely.”

The former director of Connecticut-based AmeriCares, a disaster and medical relief nonprofit organization, said he knows how to get things done when there doesn’t seem to be any money available.

ctnewsjunkie file photo
Sean Connolly announcing his exploratory campaign in October at Augie & Rays in East Hartford (ctnewsjunkie file photo)

Connolly and Smith are among more than two dozen candidates looking to succeed Malloy, who is not seeking a third term.

On the Democratic side, Connolly and Smith join Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who have both officially declared that they are running for governor. Among the higher-profile individuals exploring possible gubernatorial campaigns are Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, and former Connecticut Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Dita Bhargava.

There are more than a dozen candidates on the Republican side exploring or vying for their party’s nomination, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst; Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti; former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker; Glastonbury State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan; Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik; Peter Lumaj of Fairfield; Michael Handler, the city of Stamford’s chief financial officer; state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton, hedge fund manager David Stemerman, and; Bob Stefanowski, a Madison businessman and former UBS executive.

R. Nelson Oz Griebel of Hartford and Joe Visconti of West Hartford are mounting campaigns outside of the two-party system and hope to petition onto the ballot.

There are another half-dozen or so other candidates who have not raised more than $5,000 but have each formed a committee and filed paperwork with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.