While almost two dozen candidates are traveling the state looking to pick up support from local Republican and Democratic town committees, two men say they will take their campaign directly to rank and file voters. It has been done before, but there are very long odds, odds this team says they like.
68-year-old Oz Griebel, whose been running the Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce for the past 17 years and is a former Republican, is joining forces with 49-year-old attorney Monte Frank of Newtown, who is best known for his involvement in the Newtown Action Alliance pro-gun control advocacy group and is a former Democrat.
They say together, with Griebel for governor and Frank for lieutenant governor, they can offer something none of the Republican or Democratic candidates can because they don’t have to spend the next five months trying to convince delegates to vote for them at the party conventions in May.
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At their inaugural news conference, Griebel said, “We’re trying to reach out and say our focus is on the residents of Connecticut not on majorities in either chamber. We’re not worried about who gets credit and I think that matters to people.”
Frank added, “The people that I’ve talked to are exhausted by the process that has occurred in this state and they’re looking for answers. They’re not looking for constant bickering, they’re looking for bipartisan solutions.”
The last independent to win the governorship was Lowell Weicker 27 years ago, but he had almost universal name recognition from his terms in the U.S. Senate.
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Griebel and Frank have almost no name recognition among the public at large, but say they can overcome that and will not participate in the state’s public campaign finance system as all of the Republicans and Democrats are doing.
“Taking $30 million or so out of the budget to put in campaign financing, we just don’t think is [the] appropriate or responsible thing to do,” said Griebel.
To get on the ballot, Griebel and Frank must collect signatures from 7,500 registered voters and raise as much money as they can in private donations that cannot exceed $3,500 per person. They have a treasurer and several start-up volunteers, and say they’re in the market for a campaign manager.