HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The potential list of candidates in the race to replace Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is starting to grow by the day. One more Thursday, another expected tomorrow. On Thursday, 53 year old Kevin Lembo of Guilford, the State Comptroller who has bucked the Malloy administration on business incentives and budget issues over the past six years became the latest Democrat in the race to replace him. At an event in North Haven on Thursday, Lembo said he was running because, “I’m sick and tired of how things are going. I’m sick and tired of our economy stumbling along. It makes no sense whatsoever.”
When Governor Malloy announced two weeks ago that he would not seek a third term, speculation among Democrats immediately focused on Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. So far, she has declined all comment on the rapidly expanding race, but is known to be consulting friends and supporters about a possible run. There has been much speculation about Branford State Senator Ted Kennedy Junior. His obvious famous political name and anticipated ability to raise large amounts of campaign cash considered a major asset. He has declined to comment on a possible run.
“Ted Kennedy and the Lt. Governor are waiting until the session is over. They have a very difficult job to finish for the next few weeks before they make any decisions,” said Nick Balletto of New Haven the Chairman of the State Democratic Party. Balletto also says Lt. Governor Wyman is the one to watch for the next big move, “I think the Lt. Governor is obviously the most popular candidate we have as a Democrat in the State of Connecticut and think people are going to wait and see what she does as they make their decisions.”
Besides Lembo, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris and former Federal Prosecutor Chris Mattei have officially announced. Kennedy, Wyman, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and Attorney General George Jepsen are all considered possibilities on the Democratic side.
Republican State Party Chairman J.R. Romano says “You may see up to four candidates in a primary and I’m okay with that.” On the Republican side; Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Glastonbury
physician and state rep. Prasad Srinivasan, businessman Joe Visconti of West Hartford, and Afgan War veteran Micah Welintukonis of Coventry are declared candidates. Five others are exploring a run. There has also been speculation about House Minority Leader Themis Klarides of Derby.
Romano says he expects more candidates but whoever gets the nomination his push will be the same one that won the Republicans so many legislative seats last fall, “It’s not just Dan Malloy, what we’re going to run on is the facts. And the fact is that Democrats, in their entirety, have failed this state.”
Everyone knows that whatever budget the Assembly finally passes and the Governor signs is going to be unpopular. Romano believes that will hurt Democrats at the ballot box. But, Balletto says the Democrats won’t get all the blame this time, “This is the first time the Republicans have a real seat at the table and they’re going to put their proposals together and they’re going to have to sit there and say they were a part of the budget process.” Romano adding, “We’re going to run on the fact that the Republican Party’s willing, wants to grow this economy so that you have jobs not grow government. We want to grow the economy and what we’ve learned with the Democrats is they want to grow government.”
Another Democrat, a well known Southern Connecticut politician is expected to formally enter the race tomorrow. The two parties political conventions are a full year away with the election a full 18 months away.