HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Bob Stefanowski, a former GE executive who pitched himself to voters as Bob the Rebuilder, won Tuesday’s Republican primary for Connecticut governor in an upset and will face a fellow wealthy businessman, Democrat Ned Lamont, in November.
A political newcomer who bypassed the traditional Republican Party convention process, Stefanowski defeated the party’s endorsed candidate, veteran Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, and three other Republican candidates. It was Boughton’s third attempt to run for governor.
The Madison businessman gained early name recognition by running a series of ads, in which he pledged to fix the state’s fiscal woes and eliminate the personal income tax.
“I’ve been consistent on this from day one, unlike any of my opponents,” Stefanowski said, adding how he’s the one to “reverse the damage Dan Malloy has done over the last eight years.”
Stefanowski’s win sets up a likely battle this fall over the policies of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not running for a third term, and Republican President Donald Trump, who Lamont had vowed to fight.
Lamont easily defeated Bridgeport mayor and ex-convict Joe Ganim in Tuesday’s primary. His victory comes 12 years after he defeated the party’s then-veteran U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in a Democratic showdown that was viewed nationally as a referendum on the war in Iraq. Lamont later lost in the general election when Lieberman ran as an independent.
As in 2006, Lamont is hoping to ride a wave of national discontent among Democrats. He has promised to “save Connecticut” from the dogma of Trump and his fellow Republicans, whether it’s on immigration, the weakening of environmental standards, limiting of access to abortion or scaling back union members’ rights.
“He’s wrong. We’re going to draw a line in the sand. We’re fighting for Connecticut values, not Trump values, Connecticut values. We are going to be the firewall,” Lamont told supporters who gathered in New Haven.
Democratic Governors Association Chairman Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, said Lamont was the only candidate in the race for governor “who will stand up to Donald Trump when his policies hurt Connecticut.”
The Republican Governors Association immediately responded by accusing Lamont of being an “enabler” of Malloy, even though he ran against Malloy in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Matthew Corey, a window washer and Hartford pub owner, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Connecticut on Tuesday and will face an uphill battle against Democratic incumbent Chris Murphy.
The 54-year-old Navy veteran, who received the Republican party endorsement in May, defeated Dominic Rapini, a national sales manager for Apple computers.
Corey, who ran three previous unsuccessful campaigns for Congress against Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson, has said he wants this race to be a referendum pitting the policies of President Donald Trump, which he supports, against the liberal policies supported by Murphy.
“He doesn’t represent Connecticut anymore because he’s forgotten Connecticut, and what’s important here,” Corey told the Hartford Courant.
Corey has called for more investment in small businesses in low-income communities. He’s also supportive of apprenticeship programs, corporate tax reform and a tax credit for home school parents.
As of July 25, records show Corey had raised about $31,000 in campaign funds compared with nearly $13.5 million for Murphy, who still has about $8.5 million on hand.
There was no primary on the Democratic side.
Murphy was first elected in 2012 and became a prominent advocate for gun control following the mass shooting that year at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
The 45-year-old Democrat also has gained a national reputation as an opposition voice to Trump and is frequently mentioned among possible Democratic challengers to the Republican president in 2020.
“There’s so much at stake this midterm election,” Murphy said in a statement. “Connecticut needs to continue to be a firewall against President Trump’s policies of division and his efforts to take away our health care in favor of benefiting corporations and his wealthy friends. The Republicans nominated up and down the ticket tonight will be a rubber stamp for his agenda. We just can’t afford to go backward.”
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