(Updated 6:06 p.m.) The two country western songs retweeted by Gov. Ned Lamont Sunday were not paid for by the state, but they were solicited by the Department of Economic and Community Development’s tourism division.
One of the songs touts the fact that Connecticut now has online gambling and legalized cannabis.
“Back home we thank the governor for the blessings that we got. We can gamble on the internet and it’s cool to smoke some pot,” the song by Rusty Gear says. “So you all come visit my state and mind your etiquette, I guarantee you’ll be welcome in Connecticut.”
The song has received more than 13,000 views on Twitter and drawn criticism from Lamont’s Repubilican opponent, Bob Stefanowski.
Stefanowski tweeted: “This video can’t be real – Can it @GovNedLamont? Our governor should not be encouraging kids to smoke marijuana because Ned Lamont believes it’s “cool to smoke pot.” If this doesn’t prove we need a change in leadership I’m not sure what does!”
The video is very real, but Lamont never promoted the use of marijuana by children. Cannabis is only legal for adults 21 and older in Connecticut.
“It’s disappointing that Bob is lying, but not surprising given how much he is trying to distract from his extreme positions like opposing gun control measures, supporting the NRA, fundraising with ultraconservative anti-choice and anti-LGBT Governors, and supporting the anti-choice judges Trump put on the Supreme Court,” Jake Lewis, a campaign spokesman, said.
Earlier in the day at an event in Stamford, Lamont explained the impetus behind the tweet.
Connecticut has everything!
The nation’s best pizza
Great breweries#CTgrown produce
Yes, you read that right. We have country music, like this toe-tapping track about our great state. pic.twitter.com/5UKiYxVsKd— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) June 5, 2022
“Within a week of each other we got two songs that were written, the country western song of Connecticut,” Lamont said. “All we did was sort of try to put them up side-by-side and see which one people liked, I think they voted pretty strong for one.”
DECD Commissioner David Lehman said they wanted to engage the public with their new “Find Your Vibe!” tourism campaign.
“My personal view is, with marijuana in particular, you’re seeing that trend all over I don’t think you’re going to see destination tourism around cannabis,” Lehman said. “I think it’s just an example of some of the progress we’ve made in Connecticut in terms of what’s happening here.”
Lehman said he also didn’t think they were going to see tourism for online sports betting, but that’s what the author of that song decided to highlight.
“Sort of fun those two songs, weren’t they?” Lamont said. “We don’t have a big country western tradition in Connecticut, but two songs now about Connecticut. I asked Billy Joel: I said ‘How come we don’t have a song about Connecticut?’ He said I couldn’t think of anything to rhyme.”
Lehman said they were just retweeting what they thought “was a nifty idea by one of our constituents. That was not the official tourism song of the state.”
Lamont’s campaign defended the governor’s promotion of the state and its budding cannabis industry.
“This is just another issue where Bob is out of touch with the majority of Connecticut. Meanwhile, Gov. Lamont fulfilled a campaign promise and created a legal adult-use cannabis market that is a national leader in prioritizing public health, public safety, criminal justice, and equity and protects our children,” Jake Lewis, a spokesman for the Lamont campaign, said.