Embracing new technology that is synonymous with her generation, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart used Facebook Live to announce she’s exploring a run for governor.
In a first attempt to make her announcement, the program froze before she could get the news out, but she was back up and running in less than a minute with the news as she kept supporters in suspense.
The 30-year-old Republican who won a third mayoral term in a predominately Democratic city this past year said she decided that the current field of candidates isn’t able to offer what the party needs to win.
Watching from the distance during the first two Republican debates, Stewart was unhappy with what she was hearing from the large field of mostly male candidates.
Without disparaging any specific candidates, she said it has become clear “that we can’t afford to waste another opportunity to take back our state.”
She said timing is everything in politics and “together we’ll learn if now is my time.”
She said when she was 25 years old and running for mayor of New Britain, the city was suffering from the same “crisis.”
“My city, my home, was losing its soul,” Stewart said in her announcement video. “Sound familiar?”
“Connecticut is in crisis mode and we need leaders who understand that we must change the way we do business,” Stewart said. “We need leaders who are able to bring together diverse perspectives and backgrounds to make difficult choices in order to get our state moving forward once again. We’ve become too fixated on the negatives.”
Stewart likely will be criticized for being too young and out of step with the far right of her party, but she’s not concerned.
“If you are looking for a candidate who is going to fit in nicely with a certain ideology, that’s not me. Then I’m not your candidate,” Stewart told the camera.
She said she’s a fiscal conservative who is pro-choice and has a gun permit.
“I support responsible gun ownership. I support the civil rights of all individuals,” Stewart said. “I’m passionate about the success of Connecticut’s cities. I believe that we are successful when we embrace policies that unite us rather than divide us.”
She said she wins elections because both Democrats and Republican voters feel comfortable casting a ballot for her.
“I’m a different kind of Republican,” Stewart said. “I’m not going to be put in a box by a party or one person in Washington. I think a vast majority of people want a leader who is grounded in common sense.”
Stewart is also likely to face criticism from the voters of New Britain who just re-elected her. Similar criticism has been leveled against other sitting mayors, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who Stewart nominated last year at the Republican nominating convention.
Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto said Stewart is “demonstrating a lack of serious interest in leading her city.”
He said her inability to secure a majority for her party on the city council in her third term also should been seen as a “troubling signal.”
“With her Obama credentials, Mayor Stewart wants to be considered ‘a different kind of candidate’. However, in practice, Stewart has proven herself a loyal cutout of Donald Trump’s Connecticut Republican Party,” Balletto said.
The only other Republican female exploring a run for governor is Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton.
Stewart will join a crowded Republican field that includes David Stemerman, Bob Stefanowski, Boughton, former Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Steve Obsitnik, David Walker, Peter Lumaj, and Mike Handler.