Candidates: voters need specifics

Here is the pledge made by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont to the party’s base in accepting the nomination: “I’m not going to balance the budget on the backs of our teachers, not on the backs of our state employees and not on the backs of the most vulnerable.” 

So where does that leave the backs of the rest of us?

Maybe with Republican nominee Mark Boughton, who is making some hearts flutter by promising eliminate the state’s income tax — but then saying it will take 10 years to do it. This should happen in the middle of his third term, something we haven’t seen a governor achieve since John Rowland. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Rowland was also the last candidate to promise the elimination of the income tax if only we elected him.

There’s no guarantee, of course, that Lamont and/or Boughton will be the actual candidates after the August primaries. Lamont has the better chance, thanks to rather weak opposition. He may have to run against Joe Ganim, who spent seven years in prison between two stretches as mayor of Bridgeport and Guy Smith, a Greenwich businessman who, like Ganim, has to petition his way onto the August ballot. Ganim appears to have a better chance at it than Smith, who seems to be running a stealth campaign.

Boughton has two primary challengers left over from the convention, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik, but three others could petition their way onto the ballot: Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti,  Fairfield County businessmen Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman.  

Speaking of Stemerman, and few have, he’s the only one of the above-mentioned crowd who actually has a detailed plan for governing the state in the next four years, with specifics on everything from taxing and spending to working out a plan to restructure the state’s employee retirement program. But first, he has to petition his way onto the Republican primary ballot, a difficult task. Stefanowski also offers some detail but it’s the work of supply-side, trickle-down economist Art Laffer. 

So, as of now, we can only predict with certainty that the primaries will attract a poor turnout and the largest bloc of Connecticut voters, those not willing to affiliate with either party, will be denied the right to participate. But the problem with the 2018 campaign for governor of Connecticut to this point is still too many candidates and too few good ones. None of the stars, risen or rising, from either party really showed an interest in being governor, thereby admitting they didn’t know how to make things better. Unfortunately, there were many others who also didn’t know how but were only too willing to try.

Of the presumed nominees, Lamont and Boughton, the better choice would appear now to be Boughton. He has at least had some experience in running and winning and in legislating and governing, four qualities Lamont mostly lacks.

Boughton, who tried for the Republican nomination in 2010 and 2014, has served in the Legislature and as a successful mayor of the growing city of Danbury; Lamont is best known for having lost previous runs for U.S. Senate as his party’s nominee in 2006 and as a losing candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination eight years ago. He is a businessman and heir to the fortune of the onetime head of J.P. Morgan & Co., Thomas Lamont.

The Lamont for Governor website contains all the liberal Democratic clichés. Elect Ned and he will “create the $15 minimum wage, stand with our labor unions, strengthen our gun safety laws, build an economy with an opportunity for women and get our state finances in order.”

He does not share how he plans to accomplish these nice things or pay for them.

Google “Boughton for Governor” and you’ll find the candidate deals with the state’s most pressing economic issues by promising to repeal the income tax over 10 years without explaining how the state will function during the process. He does admit the income tax would have to be replaced with other taxes like the 7-percent tax on capital gains, 14-percent tax on interest and dividends and an 8-percent sales tax that might have been in double digits by now without an income tax.  

This could be a good year for an independent candidate with ideas to have an impact. We have an independent, former Republican Oz Griebel, but he has yet to make his own impact or to offer many specific ideas. 

And there you have it: a bunch of candidates with little specific to say, except for one who may never even get on a ballot.

As they say at the closing of each Legislative session, “God save the State of Connecticut.” 


Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.