HARTFORD, CT — Unable to gain traction in a crowded field before the Democratic convention, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is dropping his gubernatorial bid and focusing on Hartford.
Bronin, a 38-year-old first-term mayor and Greenwich native, raised $230,000, but was unable to catch fire with rank-and-file Democrats and party elders.
Attorney General George Jepsen dealt Bronin a blow a few months ago when he announced his support for Ned Lamont.
Bronin announced Monday that after spending four months crisscrossing the state, he’s ending his campaign.
He said his commitment to Hartford, he vowed not to seek higher office during his mayoral bid in 2015, weighed on him.
“While our State may be at a critical moment, our city is, too,” Bronin said. “Last fall, we were able to build new partnership with the State of Connecticut — marrying new financial assistance with long-term accountability. I believe deeply that agreement was the right and responsible path, not just for Hartford but for Connecticut. As legislators and others threaten to undo that work, I want to be able to make the case for maintaining that new partnership without regard for politics. I want to fight as hard for Hartford in the coming months as I have over the past two years.”
Hartford was on a verge of bankruptcy until lawmakers decided to help the city by agreeing to make its debt payments for 20 years.
Lawmakers have been complaining about the deal and want to make sure Hartford’s other municipal aid is lowered to account for the state’s new responsibility to pay its debt.
“I also don’t want my status in this race to be a reason for people to condemn or politicize the agreement we reached with the state,” Bronin said. ” I don’t want anyone to undermine our City as a way of getting at me, and I cannot let Hartford’s future become the casualty of a political fight.
Two rating agencies have recently increased the value of Hartford’s debt as a result of the state’s decision.
The announcement that Bronin wouldn’t seek higher office came less than an hour before he revealed a new budget proposal for the city. The proposal will be scrutinized by the Municipal Accountability Review Board, which is overseeing the city’s finances as part of the state’s agreement to cover most of Hartford’s debt payments for 20 years.
Before he was elected mayor, Bronin was Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief legal counsel. His closeness to the outgoing governor who is not running for re-election was also seen as a problem by party insiders.
A February poll conducted by Global Strategies Group found Malloy was more unpopular than Republican President Donald Trump.
Malloy’s approval rating was 24 percent and Trump’s was 36 percent.