Courtesy of FB Live
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (Courtesy of FB Live)

NEW BRITAIN, CT—Using her alma mater as her backdrop, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart announced Monday at Central Connecticut State University that she is no longer “exploring” and is officially a Republican candidate for governor.

Using Facebook Live to make that announcement, the 30-year-old Republican said she decided to “tip my toe into the already crowded waters” because she isn’t convinced that any of the already dozen or so Republican candidates can build the kind of broad based coalition she said she can.

She announced her exploratory bid in January. However, because she wasn’t officially a candidate and hadn’t raised the necessary funds, she’s been absent from the debate stage. The next Republican Party sponsored debate will be held on April 4 at New Britain High School.

Stewart, who is in her third mayoral term in New Britain, said Monday it is important that the Republicans not only win the governor’s race this November “but also retake the state House and the state Senate” to get the state back on the right track.

Stewart, who was 26 years old when she was first elected mayor of New Britain, said since she first made it known she was thinking of running for governor a few weeks ago “the response has been nothing short of overwhelming.”

She said her campaign will focus on two important issues: job creation and improving public education.

Stewart added that she hopes her running for governor at such a young age will “inspire young people” to take a more active interest in politics in the state of Connecticut.

Though she’s young, Stewart, 30, is proud of her track record as mayor. She said the city has rebounded from under her leadership. Democrats, who control the town council in New Britain, disagree she’s taking the city in the right direction.

Stewart describes herself as a fiscal conservative who is pro-choice and has a gun permit.

She grew up in politics as her father is also a former mayor of New Britain.

She will be entering a crowded field of candidates as more than two dozen Republicans and Democrats have expressed an interest in replacing two-term incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. She’s the 11th Republican to officially announce her intentions to run for the nomination.

The only candidate left exploring on the Republican side is Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton.

The candidates have been lining up to run for the office since last year when Malloy announced be wouldn’t seek a third term.

It’s a race where there’s no clear frontrunner from either party vying for the nomination.

Stewart, in making her announce Monday, may also be trying to take advantage of an opportunity that didn’t exist before last Thursday.

Stewart, who nominated Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton in 2014 for the position, made her announcement a few days after Boughton collapsed at an event in Avon. Boughton’s campaign claimed Friday that it was the result of dehydration and that the mayor has already returned to the campaign trail.

The incident has caused delegates to question Boughton’s health.

Boughton had a benign brain tumor removed last August. His campaign maintained that his collapse last week was based on dehydration and what now seems like a poor decision not to eat dinner.