Doug Hardy / ctnewsjunkie
Jonathan Harris and his wife Lucy (Doug Hardy / ctnewsjunkie)

WEST HARTFORD, CT — Whether it was his vision for Blue Back Square or his friendship over the years more than 100 supporters turned out Saturday to hear about Jonathan Harris’ next challenge— a run for governor.

Harris, 53, the former mayor, former state senator, former Department of Consumer Protection commissioner, and former executive director of the Democratic Party was praised Saturday by his colleagues for being a kind leader.

He might not have the same kind of name recognition as other Democrats vying for the job, but Harris seems to be well-liked among the party’s faithful. Something that will matter in the next round of the competition when he has to compete for 15 percent of the delegates to the two-day convention in May.

“He understands what leadership is all about,” West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said Saturday.

She said he’s also a leader who cares and “will got the extra mile for every single person.”

Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said she’s supporting Harris because of the “kind of person you are. The kind of policymaker you are and the kind of leader you are.”

She described Harris as “determined” and “kind.”

As far as policy is concerned, she said Harris is collaborative. As chairman of the Public Health Committee he was able to work with the Catholic Church to pass legislation that found a way to allow for Plan B contraception for rape victims in emergency rooms at Catholic hospitals and facilities.

Bye said he was also able to bring together a politically divided West Hartford and usher through a controversial “public-private partnership” that became Blue Back Square.

“This was not always a popular economic development project,” Bye said. “It was actually a new and very complicated scheme.”

Harris’s announcement Saturday was made in the shadows of that development, which expanded West Hartford’s residential and retail space.

Harris bragged Saturday that he’s received more contributions of $100 or less than any other candidate in the Democratic field.

As of Jan. 1, his campaign reported raising $232,745 and spending only $36,861. The next report isn’t due until April.

Harris said his campaign has raised the $250,000 in qualifying contributions needed to qualify for funding should he get the necessary 15 percent at the convention.

If he does then he will receive $1.25 million for the Aug. 14 primary.

“It isn’t big money. It’s hard earned money. It’s grassroots,” Harris told the cheering crowd Saturday.

He said there’s a “palpable feeling that something is wrong. That we’ve been losing too much. Big corporations, small to mid-sized businesses, even people, neighbors and friends, who are leaving even if they rather not.”

He said his own son, a UConn grad, is having to consider moving to Boston or New York because that’s where all the opportunities are.

“This is not the Connecticut you or our children deserve,” Harris said. “We need creative solutions to end our fiscal crisis and brings jobs and people back to our state.” 

Harris is one of six Democratic candidates running for the job. Others include Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, Ned Lamont of Greenwich, Guy Smith of Greenwich, Susan Bysiewicz of Middletown, Sean Connolly of Hebron. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is still exploring a run for governor.

Dita Bhargava, a former Wall Street executive, switched over to run for state treasurer earlier this week. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew dropped out of the race in January.

Jonathan Harris announces he is running for governor

Jonathan Harris announces he is running for governor

(includes introduction speeches)

Posted by on Saturday, February 24, 2018