Madison Republican Bob Stefanowski, a former investment banker who lost to Gov. Ned Lamont in 2018 by 44,372 votes, announced his intent to run for his party’s nomination Wednesday morning on the Chaz & AJ show.
Stefanowski is seeking a rematch against Lamont, who is running for reelection. In 2018 Stefanowski ran on a narrow platform to eliminate the state income tax. This time, he said he will campaign on a broader spectrum of issues. During his radio appearance he continued to paint himself as an outsider.
“I’m not a politician. I had never run for office before,” Stefanowski said. “You learn a lot. Governor Lamont, it took him three tries to run for statewide office.”
Stefanowski cast Connecticut as a struggling state even as budget projections released Tuesday found state coffers flush with cash. According to legislative analysts, Connecticut is taking in $600 million more than projected.
But while the state’s fiscal situation was more sound than during Stefanowski’s first run, he said Connecticut voters had not felt those financial gains.
“Over the past three years, our state has become less affordable and more dangerous for the good people who live, work, and go to school here. We already have some of the highest taxes, utilities, and childcare costs in the country, and runaway inflation is making it even worse,” Stefanowski said. “Nearly everything is more expensive in Connecticut than the rest of the country.”
Stefanowski, who has remained critical of Lamont during radio interviews and opinion submissions to newspapers, has long been a presumptive candidate for governor.
He is expected to compete with Themis Klarides, former House Republican leader, who has not yet officially declared her intent to run. Granby resident Susan Patricelli Regan, a former marketing executive, has also filed paperwork to run for governor.
During his radio interview, Stefanowski said Connecticut residents were skeptical of the government.
“It’s time for new leaders who will focus on delivering results to the people of Connecticut rather than personal political agendas,” he said. “I’ve turned organizations around. It’s about changing the culture.”
In a morning press release, state Democratic chair Nancy DiNardo framed Stefanowski as a political extremist with plans to roll back health care policies and oppose state gun laws.
“When it comes to working families, he opposes having a minimum wage altogether. And when asked to grade Donald Trump as President, he give him an ‘A’ and called Trump’s endorsement of his candidacy pretty cool,” DiNardo said.
However, Stefanowski was registered as a Democrat in 2016 and didn’t vote in that year’s contest between Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He hadn’t voted for 16 years, according to records from the Registrar of Voters office in Madison.
“I worked in London for eight years and two years in Philadelphia,” he said during an interview. “I should have mailed in an absentee ballot.”
Pressed by Democrats earlier this month on the anniversary of the U.S. Capitol riot, Stefanowski responded with a statement that affirmed President Joe Biden’s election and condemned last year’s violence.
“But while we can’t forget the way we all felt that day, President Biden won the election over a year ago,” Stefanowski said. “It’s time to move on from division and hyper-partisanship and work together to provide the people of Connecticut with better public safety, a lower cost of living, and a quality education for their kids.”