“What a difference four years makes,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski said in accepting the Republican nomination Friday.
In 2018, Stefanowski came to the convention and hosted a party, but skipped the nominating process and petitioned his way onto the ballot. Then he surprised the party establishment by winning the Republican primary that year.
That year, Gov. Ned Lamont bested Stefanowski by 44,372 votes. 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.
This year he easily won the backing of the 1,159 delegates who gathered in a ballroom at Foxwoods Casino. Susan Regan’s name was entered into nomination requiring a vote of all the delegates, but Stefanowski won the nomination by a landslide with Stefanowski winning 96.9% of the vote and Regan receiving 3.09%.
Over the past three years, Stefanowski has criss-crossed the state making the connections necessary to win the support of the party. When the pandemic broke out and no one could find a surgical mask, Stefanowski was able to secure millions with his own money and began handing them out to the public.
In his acceptance speech he said Connecticut is ready for a change.
“I fundamentally believe this, that this election is going to be different,” Stefanowski said. “This election will be historic in the state of Connecticut, you know how I know why? Let’s be honest we’ve all noticed it, younger people coming out in droves to Republican events.”
He said young Republicans have been organizing and fighting back. He talked about moms and dads who have never been involved in politics running for local boards of education and fighting for parental rights.
Stefanowski also touched on committing to make Connecticut safe by supporting law enforcement. Democrats and Republicans have different views on how to handle an increase in certain crimes in Connecticut. Overall crime is down, but certain crimes, in certain parts of the state saw an uptick during the pandemic.
Republicans who attended the convention commented on how far Stefanowski has come since his first campaign.
“Bob has become a much better candidate over the last four years,” Republican Party Chairman Ben Proto said. “I think he has a better understanding of the issues in the state. I think he has a better understanding of how to deliver his message.”
He said all too often political candidates try to bring voters to their issues and they really need to listen to voters and voters issues.
Proto said they opened up a Republican National Committee office in New Britain and have used it to do organizing, but they also used it to do a diaper drive.
“We had about 45 people there who came for volunteer training,” Proto said.
He said he’s seeing a very different organizational structure within the Republican Party than they had four years ago.
Republicans also nominated Rep. Laura Devlin for lieutenant governor, Rep. Harry Arora of Greenwich to run for state treasurer and Jessica Kordas of Norwalk to run for attorney general.
Arora has been a state representative for four years.
He made a point of reminding the convection that it’s been 25 years since Republicans were in the state treasurer’s office.
He said he would increase the return on the state pension fund.
Kordas will run against Attorney General William Tong in November.
“I may be just a girl from Norwalk, a proud mom, and a lawyer from a small firm who spends her days zipping around courthouses defending the fundamental tenets of the law and our constitution, but man I’ll tell you there’s nobody better to fight with and fight for you than a passionate and fierce mom,” Kordas said in accepting the nomination. “We are relentless.”
Neither Devlin, Arora or Kordas are expected to have a primary.