HARTFORD, CT — Two weeks before the latest round of fundraising totals are revealed a number of gubernatorial candidates are touting their endorsements, but none has gotten much publicity until today.
Most endorsements are sent out as press releases and they might get picked up by local papers, but few are able to attract three TV cameras and a handful of reporters.
On Monday when Attorney General George Jepsen announced his endorsement of Ned Lamont outside the Capitol Press room on the fourth floor of the state Capitol, the cameras were rolling.
Jepsen, who announced last year that he wouldn’t seek a third term as attorney general, has been a heavyweight in the Democratic Party for decades. The former state Senator from Stamford was also the head of the Connecticut Democratic Party for a few years.
Jepsen said he’s known Lamont for decades.
“He’s a man of integrity,” Jepsen said Monday. “… He’s never been afraid to stand up and do the right thing for the right reason.”
Jepsen, a longtime friend of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, may not have been able to say that back in 2010 when Lamont challenged Malloy for governor. That year, Lamont was defeated by Malloy in the Democratic primary.
The bitter primary battle between the two was not easily forgotten when Malloy was hiring people for his administration. Few, if any, Lamont supporters found jobs in a Malloy administration in 2011.
Lamont said that’s partly why the Republican Governors Association will have such a hard time tying him to Malloy and his policies.
“They’re going to pour money in to see if they can turn this state red and we’re not gonna let it happen,” Lamont said.
When it comes to gun violence, the right to organize, and women’s reproductive rights, “these are all enormous issues that will be at stake in this election,” Lamont said.
One of Lamont’s key selling points has been that he wasn’t in government for the past eight years.
At the same time, Lamont has been working from the outside to bring more companies to Connecticut.
Lamont was instrumental in wooing Infosys in opening up an innovation hub in Hartford and creating an estimated 1,000 jobs.
“I’m gonna fund the pension and I’m going to have the revenues to do it to get this state going again,” Lamont said.
He said it will take him two years to do it.
“Labor knows that I’ve got their back. Labor knows I understand the sacrifices that they have made,” Lamont said.
He said he has to talk the business community off the ledge and get them a seat at the table.
As for the debt payments the state has agreed to make for the city of Hartford, Lamont said he would have done it differently.
“If we have to do something short term to help Hartford get over the hump, yes,” Lamont said. “But not at the expense of our small towns and other cities. I’m going to do everything I can to raise some new revenues so we can fully invest in what we’ve gotta do, but bailouts are not part of our future.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, who is still in his first term as mayor, is also exploring a run for governor.
Bronin was Malloy’s chief legal counsel before running for mayor.
In addition to Lamont, Jonathan Harris, Guy Smith, Susan Bysiewicz, and Sean Connolly are running for the Democratic nomination. There are 11 candidates running for the Republican nomination and Oz Griebel is petitioning his way onto the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.
The next round of fundraising totals are expected to be released on April 10. The party conventions are the second weekend in May.