Gov. Ned Lamont and Monte Frank. Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

Connecticut voters will see Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s name printed three times on their ballots for the November election as a result of the Griebel-Frank for CT Party’s Wednesday endorsement of the incumbent based on his previously-unknown support of ranked-choice voting policies. 

Lamont, who is facing a rematch with his 2018 Republican rival Bob Stefanowski, had already been cross-endorsed by the progressive Working Families Party. With this week’s Griebel-Frank endorsement, he will become the first candidate for Connecticut governor to appear on three ballot lines in at least 100 years.

During a press conference outside the state Capitol building, Monte Frank, chair of the Griebel-Frank party, told reporters that Lamont secured the endorsement of his party largely because of his commitment to support ranked-choice or instant-runoff voting in federal and municipal elections.

“Ranked choice voting is an essential step to advancing our shared mission to fix our democracy by reducing hyper-partisan politics and creating a system that provides the best and the brightest from all of our communities a chance to rise up to serve,” Frank said. 

Frank, a former Democrat, ran as a lieutenant governor candidate in 2018 alongside R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel, a former Republican investment banker and longtime leader of the Metro-Hartford Alliance. Together, they secured about 3.9% of the vote in an election that went to Lamont. Although Griebel died unexpectedly in 2020 when he was hit by a vehicle while jogging in Pennsylvania, his ticket’s performance in 2018 was enough to secure a line on this year’s ballot.

Lamont had not previously endorsed ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to order the candidates by their preference. If no candidate secures a majority of first-ranked votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and their supporters’ votes fall to their second-choice picks. 

On Wednesday, Lamont said he had previously worried that the system was too confusing but recent elections had demonstrated its efficacy. He said he was swayed in part by last month’s congressional race in Alaska, in which Democrat Mary Peltola prevailed over Republicans Sarah Palin and Nick Begich in a ranked-choice election.

“Sarah Palin said ‘I think ranked-choice voting’s a little weird.’ It sorta took on a new credibility with me,” Lamont joked. “I think it’s a lead worth taking, no question about it.”

Frank said his party spoke with all candidates in the race but declined to characterize Stefanowski’s position on ranked-choice voting. Stefanowski’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon. 

The news follows Stefanowski’s recent legal efforts to secure a second line on the ballot by asking a court to nullify the Connecticut Independent Party’s endorsement of candidate Rob Hotaling over cross-endorsing him, as the minor party had in 2018. 

Lamont said his appearance on three ballot lines reflected broad-based support for his campaign with Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz.

“We’ve tried to work across the aisle every chance we have and are strong believers in electoral reform, so you build a coalition and that’s how you govern, you just don’t do it by yourself,” Lamont said. “I think that’s what this endorsement means and that’s what I think the three endorsements mean.”

If re-elected, Lamont said he would support legislation to allow ranked-choice contests in Connecticut’s federal elections and allow the option on a municipal level. Permitting ranked choice voting for statewide elections, like the contest for governor, would require amending the state constitution. Lamont said he would likely support such an amendment. 

In addition to Lamont and Frank, Wednesday’s press event included David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida. Jolly said the governor’s endorsement of ranked choice elections would help empower voter consensus. 

“Connecticut is leading today in ranked-choice voting while other states are trying to remove the franchise, remove voter protection from people, and try to quash consensus,” Jolly said.