Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie


Suddenly, there is clarity. A confusingly crowded governor’s race has contracted, and on the Democratic side a genuine frontrunner has emerged in Ned Lamont.

And why not? He’s a perfectly reasonable choice, the sort of nice man people can agree on. He has name recognition and lingering progressive street cred from winning a primary against Joe Lieberman in 2006, but since he’s never actually been elected to anything, he doesn’t have a pesky and inconvenient record to defend.

His positions on the issues are more implied than concrete, but that’s okay. That just lets progressives and those more moderate Democrats who are still in the party believe he thinks the way they do. Their politics are his until proven otherwise, after all.

Sure, Ned’s the sort of Greenwich millionaire progressives love to hate, and yes, an argument can be made that he’s a more liberal, less wooden Tom Foley, but so what? He’ll have plenty of money, right? After all, he’s not handcuffed to the state’s public financing program. In 2010 he spent $9 million of his own money to lose to Dan Malloy in the primary, so think of what he might do now!

Besides, this is an older, wiser Lamont. Gone is the business-friendly posturing and the appeal to centrists he tried in his losing 2010 primary bid. He knows now to save that stuff for the general election. And if progressives remember 2006 but forget 2010, well, that will be all for the good, won’t it?

In short, Ned Lamont is fine. He’s fine! Nothing wrong with him at all.

Except …

No, look. Seriously. Ned is not bad. I mean, look at his main competition, right? Susan Bysiewicz has been out of state government for a long time but she still spent a lot of time in Hartford. She’s got a reputation as a vicious campaigner, plus she’s ambitious.

Sure, Ned’s trying for governor when he has only served on the Greenwich board of selectmen.The first political move he ever did was to challenge Joe Lieberman! But for some reason I feel like his is a better sort of ambition than hers. Maybe it’s the fact that she ran for attorney general in 2010 — until it turned out she didn’t have enough experience as a lawyer to qualify.

Or maybe there’s some other reason. I’m sure it’ll come to me if I think about it.

What about Joe Ganim? The guy went to prison for corruption, for Pete’s sake. Haven’t we had enough of jailbird governors? I mean, who would ever vote for someone who inspires widespread horror and disgust?

Yes, there are a few other people in the race, like Sean Connolly, but people just don’t know they exist. I mean, how often does someone come out of nowhere to win a primary?

And then there are the Republicans. One of their big shots, Tim Herbst, recently texted a friend to say he would love to put out his cigar in rival Mark Lauretti’s eye. Yeowch! Ned would never, ever say that. I’m pretty sure of it!

So there we go. Ned Lamont’s the frontrunner. He’s the choice. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

But …

You know the old saying, right? “Republicans fall in line, Democrats want to fall in love,” that’s how it goes. And I just don’t think anybody’s feeling it.

I mean … where’s Kevin Lembo? Where’s Nancy Wyman? Where’s someone new and young with fresh ideas and cheering crowds? Where’s the bold progressive blueprint for getting the state out of the mess we’re in?

When Lamont ran against Joe Lieberman and the Iraq War, it was electric. It felt like riding a storm, unstoppable and overwhelming and all-consuming. Dan Malloy never inspired that sort of passion, but in his 2010 race he did offer one thing: a chance for Democrats to take back an office they hadn’t held since 1991 and ram through a progressive agenda. He offered change, a break from the crooked Rowland administration and the sleepy Rell administration. It was enough.

What’s being offered this time? There seems to be no real message beyond a few progressive platitudes. What’s the plan for Connecticut beyond politically impossible proposals for free college and a higher minimum wage?

For the past year state Democrats have slowly been coasting to a halt. The Democratic majority in the legislature is on life support, and Democrat Dan Malloy is the most unpopular governor in the country. November, when it comes, could end up sweeping a lot of them away.

But here in the sunny skies of May, Democrats are settling for Ned Lamont, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Ignore the wind picking up outside, everything’s going to be just fine.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.