Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

HARTFORD, CT — The Democratic field of gubernatorial candidates is narrowing as the convention nears.

Jonathan Harris announced Friday that he would be dropping his bid for governor and endorsing Ned Lamont.

At a state Capitol press conference, Harris said that he felt that this was the time to bow out of the race and start reducing divisions in the party ahead of the November general election. “Now is a time where we all have to get together and we have to be cohesive, as Democrats and beyond,” he said.

Harris felt comfortable with the endorsement after criss-crossing the state with Lamont at various campaign events, and he joked that his wife, someone he felt was a better judge of character, supported his decision to endorse Lamont.

Harris believes Lamont brings a fresh perspective as a business leader and will not hesitate to challenge the party establishment.

Lamont likewise praised Harris’ character and mentioned that he enjoyed getting to know him over the campaign cycle, also promising to keep him in the process going forward.  “We’re going to be working together in the future because he knows the state, believes in the state and is a great leader in the state.”

Lamont refused to rule out a place for Harris in his administration, but said that it was simply too early in the process to think about potential cabinet members.

Lamont said his focus is now on the convention, regardless of who continues to pursue the Democratic Party’s ticket. If a primary is the end result, Lamont wants it to be positive and on the issues.

He called the current race a continuation of his gubernatorial bid in 2010, when he lost to then candidate Malloy. “I really don’t think this state has made significant changes in order to get back on track to growth,” he said in a subtle jab at Malloy.

The question remains if Harris’ delegates will pledge their support for Lamont, but both Harris and Lamont felt that the party should consolidate and gear up for November.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

Harris, a former West Hartford mayor and state senator, also served as executive director for the Connecticut Democratic Party and as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Consumer Protection Commissioner between 2014 and 2017.

Harris left the Department of Consumer Protection last April and resumed practicing law at Feiner and Wolfson.

When Harris got into the race last April the field of Democratic candidates was completely different. At that time state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim were in the race. Of that early group, all but Ganim have also dropped their bids for the governor’s office.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin was also exploring a run for four months.

Susan Bysiewicz, the former secretary of the state, has since gotten into the race. Sean Connolly, the former Veterans Affairs Commissioner, is also running but is far behind in fundraising.

Guy Smith of Greenwich, who said he would skip the convention, is also trying to gain access to the Democratic primary ballot through the petition process.

In response to Harris’s endorsement, the Republican Governors Association released a statement trying to link Lamont to Malloy. “But now as he touts Harris’ support, Lamont has made it clear to voters that he plans to campaign on Malloy’s policies in hopes of succeeding him,” the email read.

The email blast went further, claiming that Lamont’s victory would represent another term of Malloy’s policies. It also featured a 13-second clip from a campaign event last week where Lamont said Harris was “so closely tied to Malloy that it’s going to be a tough road for him.”

Jonathan A. Harris ends his campaign, endorses Ned Lamont

Posted by CTNewsJunkie.com on Friday, April 27, 2018