screengrab of TV ad

HARTFORD, CT — With ominous music playing and black and white video footage of his Republican primary opponent, David Stemerman’s latest television ad seeks to take down his Republican competition.

The ad, which is focused on the voting record and party affiliation of the other self-financed Republican candidate for governor, details how Madison investment banker Bob Stefanowski was a Democrat as recently as July 2017 and hadn’t voted for 16 years.

Stefanowski is seeking the Republican nomination for governor on Aug. 14, but he’s not taking the traditional route.

He skipped the Republican convention in May and petitioned his way onto the primary ballot. He has only made it to one public debate and the last time he made himself available to the media was December 2017. But he was the first of the five Republican gubernatorial candidates to purchase an ad on television, which allowed him to be competitive in a five-way race.

“Bob didn’t vote for Donald Trump, Mitt Romney or John McCain,” the narrator says in the 30-second ad.

Stemerman’s campaign is hoping that will be shocking to Republican primary voters.

“Republican voters shouldn’t be fooled. They deserve to know about Bob Stefanowski’s record. Bob was a Democrat right up until he decided to run for governor,” Stemerman Campaign Manager Patrick Sweeney said Wednesday. “He not only failed to support any Republican candidates for 16 years, including the last three Republican Presidential nominees, but he contributed thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates like Chris Dodd.”

Stefanowski gave money to at least three Democrats over the past few years.

In 2015, Stefanowski gave $2,500 to Brian Schatz. In 2007, he gave $1,000 to Democrat Jared Polis, and he gave $2,300 to former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd. It wasn’t until 2017 that he gave $500 to the Connecticut Republican Campaign Committee.

Stemerman also gave money to at least one Democrat. In 2007, he gave $2,300 to Barack Obama, but he mostly gave to Republican candidates and committees over the years. According to public records, he gave a $10,000 contribution in 2014 to the Connecticut Republican Campaign Committee, $2,500 to Mitt Romney in 2012, $1,000 to John McCain in 2008, $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2012, and another $30,000 to the Republican National Committee that same year. Stemerman was also a registered Democratic voter when he lived in New York from 1996 to 2003.

CTNewsJunkie was the first to report in January that Stefanowski had not voted since 2001.

His explanation?

“I worked in London for eight years and two years in Philadelphia,” he said back in January. “I should have mailed in an absentee ballot.”

Stefanowski, 55, is the former president and CEO of General Electric Corporate Financial Services in Europe, was CFO at UBS from 2013 to 2015, and he also worked at the financial services firm DFC Global.

The Republican primary is on Aug. 14.

“I was a Democrat for eight months, but a Republican for 25 years,” Stefanowski said in response to the latest ad. “Ronald Reagan, Larry Kudlow, and President Trump are all pretty good former Democrats as well! I lived overseas for years and traveled extensively, I should have filed an absentee ballot. I wish it were different. But leadership is about taking responsibility for your actions and moving forward.”

Stemerman’s campaign said that’s like comparing apples and oranges.

“The contrast in this race could not be more clear — David has been a registered Republican for over 15 years and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and conservative organizations over that same period of time,” Albert Eisenberg, Stemerman’s campaign spokesman, said. “Bob Stefanowski not only didn’t vote for over 15 years or support our last three Republican Presidential nominees, but he was a registered Democrat who donated to fellow Democrats right up until he decided to run for Governor last year. That’s called being an opportunist, not a party loyalist. The facts speak for themselves and Republicans in Connecticut deserve to know them.”

The ad violates Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment.

“Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican,” was a phrase Reagan used in his 1966 campaign for California governor.

A few Republicans have blamed Tom
Foley’s loss to Dannel P. Malloy on former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s ads criticizing Foley’s management of the Bibb Co. in 2010. Malloy beat Foley by 6,404 votes that year and Democrats were quick to pick up on Fedele’s criticism of how Foley managed the Georgia textile company.

The Democratic Governors Association and Malloy’s campaign interviewed some of the same former employees of the Bibb Co., who accused Foley of running it into the ground.