HARTFORD, CT—While introducing her running mate Tuesday, New Britain Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Erin Stewart let it slip that she, herself, has been wooed by a number of gubernatorial candidates to be their number two.
Stewart, 30, said she had been “contacted by the staff of four of the GOP Republican candidates” to team up with them as their candidate for lieutenant governor.
Her answer, she said, was she wasn’t interested in being lieutenant governor. Instead, she wants the top job.
“We have growing momentum,” said Stewart, who is in her third mayoral term in New Britain. “We’ve been raising money faster than any of our opponents. We are halfway there (the $250,000 threshold) to get public financing.”
Stewart was on the state capitol lawn Tuesday to announce that she had chosen Greenwich First Selectman Peter J. Tesei as her running mate – to be lieutenant governor.
In Connecticut, the lieutenant governor candidate runs independent of a gubernatorial candidate in the party primary. However, there is a financial advantage to trying to team up before the primary.
Tesei and Stewart could combine their finances if they each receive the party’s endorsement at the convention. Tesei could help Stewart reach the $250,000 in qualifying contributions quicker than if she continues fundraising on her own.
Tesei was first elected Greenwich’s top official in 2007.
Tesei had originally endorsed Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik for governor. He said he called Obsitnik on Monday to tell him that he was going to be teaming up with Stewart, instead.
“It was a difficult conversation,” Tesei said, “but the bottom line is that part of the election has to be focused on electability and I believe that the our party’s candidate will need to win not just Republican voters, but also unaffiliated and Democrat voters.”
“Just look at Erin’s record in New Britain,” Tesei said.
Tesei will join two other Republicans in seeking the lieutenant governor’s nomination – Darien’s First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson and Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington.
Stewart and Tesei said there political philosophies were aligned – that they were social moderates and fiscal conservatives.
And Tesei added that he believes the demographic makeup of the two cities they represent, the more affluent Greenwich and the less affluent New Britain, is a good mix.
“The differences in the two are much like the differences in Connecticut,” Tesei said, stating the experience both have running their municipalities will be a good partnership for Connecticut.
Stewart didn’t shy away from answering a question about whether the delegate strength of Tesei being a first selectman of a Fairfield County town far from her hometown of New Britain was a consideration in her wooing him to join her team.
“Of course that’s a part of it,” she said. “You need to get delegates.”
The Republican nominating convention is May 11-12. If there is a primary, it will be Aug. 14.