HARTFORD, CT — They weren’t on the ballot Tuesday, but they plan to be on the ballot in November and they argue choosing another Democratic or Republican governor would be “insanity.”
Oz Griebel, the former head of the MetroHartford Alliance, and Monte Frank, an attorney and the recent past president of the Connecticut Bar Association, believe they are better positioned to fix Connecticut’s fiscal mess than either of the candidates nominated by their parties Tuesday.
“Electing either the Republican or the Democrat is the definition of insanity,” Griebel said Thursday at a state Capitol press conference.
He said both sides are offering “simplistic solutions” that can’t be implemented.
He said everything they do when they’re elected will be focused on growing 200,000 private sector jobs within 10 years. Starting with their first budget proposal in February, less than a month after the inauguration.
Griebel and Frank will only be on the ballot in November of the Secretary of the State’s office is able to certify 7,500 signatures. At the moment the count stands around 4,884. There are still more signatures waiting to be verified by various towns.
The independent team has submitted more than 10,000 signatures to town clerks across the state in hopes of qualifying for the November election as an independent ticket.
They expect to hear if they’ve qualified by September.
William Russell, Micah Welintukonis, and Chukwudi Dikko are also seeking to petition their way onto the November ballot.
There are 2.1 million registered voters in Connecticut and the largest bloc of them are unaffiliated at 859,470 as of the July 31. Democrats are next at 761,166, followed by Republicans at 446,564. The remainder belong to minor parties. The Independent Party, at 25,409 members, is next largest followed by Libertarian, Green, and Working Families, each of which are under 3,000 members.
Griebel said he thinks their ticket has the ability to attract Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters.
“What I’ve seen on the campaign trail is that people don’t put issues in buckets — politicians do and the parties do,” Frank said.
Frank said there’s no reason voters can’t support a “conservative Democrat and a liberal Republican.”
Frank said they’ve been talking to general election voters since December 2017 when they launched their campaign. He said he thinks that gives them an advantage over the Democratic and Republican candidates who have focused on voters in their own party.
“The economy of this state is not working for all people,” Frank said.
He said they’ve been looking at the issue seriously. He said the name calling via Tweet that the two major party candidates engaged in the day after the primary is “not going to solve the problem.”
Frank also pointed out that fewer people voted for Republican Bob Stefanowski in a five-way race for the Republican nomination than the average sellout for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Two sellouts to Yankee Stadium and that’s how many people voted for Ned Lamont, the Democratic nominee.
“We believe that our message is resonating,” Griebel said.
Part of the message is a proposal to reconfigure the Transportation Strategy Board and put electronic tolls in the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-84 and I-91 as a pilot program for tolls.
“Let’s put tolls in the HOV lanes. Let’s see if the world comes to an end. It won’t, “Griebel said.
Without tolls, the duo don’t believe the state will be able to create 200,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
“You’re choking off the growth because the infrastructure has been ignored for a long period of time,” Frank, who lives in Newtown, said. “If we don’t look at our infrastructure and take it seriously, if you don’t pull it out of this partisan context then we’re not going to achieve the 200,000 in job growth.”
He said Fairfield County is thriving, but its growth is choked by the poor infrastructure and traffic congestion.
The term of governor is only four years.
“We didn’t get into this mess in 10 minutes and we’re not getting out of it in 10 minutes,” Griebel said.
He said the decade-long estimate is realistic.
But they might not have the campaign funds to compete.
As of July 10, the duo had about $12,000 campaign cash on hand.
Griebel continued to call the effort a “grassroots campaign” and said they will see an increase in fundraising once they secure a ballot line for November.