Accepting his party’s gubernatorial nomination with a crushing victory over a felonious opponent, Ned Lamont Tuesday night unveiled his first plan for getting the state’s economy back on track.
In an acceptance speech from the stage of New Haven’s College Street Music Hall, Lamont offered leaders of Connecticut’s cities and towns a deal to help stabilize both their own and the state’s finances: regionalization in return for support on municipal aid and local property taxes.
Lamont offered the deal after claiming a landslide victory over challenger Joe Ganim, the Bridgeport mayor who served seven years in federal prison for accepting kickbacks. Early returns showed Lamont with 84 percent of the vote statewide; the Associated Press declared him the victor soon after the polls closed. Susan Bysiewicz won the lieutenant governor primary, William Tong the attorney general primary, and Shawn Wooden the race for the state treasurer nomination.
Lamont addressed the state’s fiscal crisis in his remarks at the New Haven victory party.
“We’ve got tough times. We have a budget crisis. The way we solve that is by working together,” Lamont said.
One of those ways: Having cities and towns deliver some services together rather than with 150 or 169 different local departments. In other words, regionalism.
“I can’t afford to subsidize inefficiencies any longer,” Lamont declared. “We can save hundreds of millions of dollars by working together on shared services.”
“I’ll make you a deal, mayor,” he continued, addressing Connecticut’s collective mayoralties and first selectmanships in the first person singular: In return for their working together, Lamont won’t join Republican calls to eliminate the income tax, which provides up to half of state government’s annual revenue. He’ll protect urban aid, which has been cut recently; and he’ll look to shift the state’s reliance on local property taxes to pay municipal bills.
“I’m going to invest in education and I’m going to reduce the property tax year one,” Lamont vowed. “The middle class has paid enough.”
Lamont also vowed to press for a $15 hourly minimum wage in Connecticut and pay equity for women. In contrast to Republican candidates blaming state unions for the fiscal crisis, in some cases calling for abrogating agreements, Lamont promised to honor collective bargaining and to treat labor with “respect.”
He also vowed to make Connecticut a bulwark against the Trump administration’s policies on workers’ rights, gun control, the environment, immigration, and abortion.
“They give Donald Trump an A,” he said of the Republican gubernatorial primary candidates. “I give him an F. He’s wrong. We’re going to draw a line in the sand.”
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp noted New Haven’s support for Lamont in the primary.
“New Haven led for Ned Lamont,” Harp said in a speech at the Music Hall before Lamont himself spoke. “Just like Ned believes that we’ve got to get guns out of the hands of our children, New Haven believes the same. Just like Ned believes that we should have great paying jobs for everyone, New Haven believes the same. And just like New Haven knows, all of Connecticut knows that if cities are going to prosper in this state, we have got to have Ned for our next governor.”
About a quarter of New Haven’s registered Democrats turned out to vote Tuesday, roughly similar to the turnout eight years ago for the last contested Democratic gubernatorial primary. Lamont crushed Ganim 3-1 in the city, based on results from the voting machines, 6,593 (74 percent) to 2,242 (26 percent); up to 956 absentee ballots remained to be counted.
With about 96 percent of precincts reporting Lamont received 68,326 votes to Ganim’s 38,166 votes.
Endorsed Candidates Sweep Underticket Races
On Tuesday, all the party endorsed candidates won their races for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state treasurer.
In the race for lieutenant governor, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz took a convincing 62.2 percent of the vote to Eva Bermudez Zimmerman’s 37.8 percent, which is about the same as the Democratic convention split between the two.
In a three-way race for attorney general on the Democratic side, Rep. William Tong defeated Sen. Paul Doyle and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei with 57.3 percent of the vote.
In the race for the open state Treasurer’s seat, Shawn Wooden beat Dita Bhargava with 56.7 percent of the vote.