In a holiday tradition that goes back decades, Gov. Ned Lamont appeared before the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Tuesday to give them an update on Connecticut’s economy. It ended up being more of a cheerleading session, in case anyone was beginning to be depressed about the rising rates of COVID-19.
“I’m as frustrated as you are. We’re the most vaccinated state in the country. We have more boosters than anybody else. We’re more likely to wear the mask,” Lamont said. “But I am very confident we’re getting through this.”
When it comes to the state budget, the state has surpluses for at least the next two years thanks to an increase in sales tax revenues and a large amount of money from the federal government.
“No hanging out the Mission Accomplished banner, we have a long way to go, but for the first time in a long time we made incredible progress there,” Lamont said of the budget situation.
Lamont said he was proud the budget passed in 2021 was bipartisan.
“We’re getting a fair amount of dough from Washington by the way,” Lamont quipped.
But Lamont, who announced his re-election bid last month, used part of his 10-minute address to compare himself to Ted Lasso, the Apple TV show developed by Jason Sudeikis, who also plays the main character, Ted Lasso.
“Who is that soccer coach? The British soccer coach? That is on TV” Lamont asked. “What’s his name?”
Lamont looked at the newly minted UConn Football Coach Jim Mora who offered up “Ted Lasso.”
“Ted Lasso is my guy,” Lamont said.
The crowd laughed.
“People say whose era, usually they say, Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, I like Ted Lasso,” Lamont said.
Lamont said he likes him because the American college football coach was recruited to coach an English Premier League soccer team.
“Ted Lasso they send him over to Britain, he’s supposed to fail, and his infectious optimism. This goofy optimism. He takes a bunch of these young players who are a little bit dysfunctional, all thinking about themselves, they have no idea what team means and he makes them believe,” Lamont said.
He said he tries to do for the state of Connecticut what Ted Lasso does for his soccer team.
“We were pretty down on ourselves a few years ago, a little grumpy,” Lamont said. “We were at the bottom of this list and the bottom of that list, and we’re in a chronic state of fiscal crisis and GE left, last one out turn out the lights. I say hogwash. I think it’s the most amazing state in the country.”
Lamont got a standing ovation.
Afterward a reporter told him Lasso had a panic attack and left the game in the second season.
“Hey hold it, I haven’t seen the whole season yet,” Lamont said. “Spoiler alert.”
Lamont was introduced by Eversource CEO Joe Nolan, who said it was nice to see the governor and the media at the breakfast and not in the middle of a weather event.
“As a business owner and a job creator the governor understands the needs and the issues of the business community,” Nolan said. “His commitment to progress and economic development is evident in the way that the economy is coming back.”
In a thick Boston accent, Nolan said “under Gov. Lamont’s leadership jobs are growing, people are moving here, companies are moving here and there’s a growing confidence in the state of Connecticut.”
“I can tell you the governor is firm but fair, accessible and forward looking,” Nolan said. “We’ve spoken a lot ever since I took the new role at Eversource and even when we disagree or the governor is telling me how it’s going to be, we have a mutual respect for each other and we’re both always willing to pick up the phone.”
The crowd laughed.
“That’s the sign of a true leader,” Nolan said. “Somebody who is interested in solving problems.”