MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (WTNH) — With Election Day just about six months away, Connecticut Republicans kicked off their two-day convention Friday at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket.

Connecticut Republicans endorsed businessman Bob Stefanowski as their candidate for governor on Friday night. He was the party’s 2018 candidate but lost to Democrat Ned Lamont in a three-way race.

Stefanowski, 59, overwhelmingly won the GOP’s backing on Friday.

“We did it,” Stefanowski told the cheering crowd in the Premier Ballroom at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “What a difference four years makes. People are going to vote for a new vision, a change in the way we do things.”

VIDEO: News 8’s Chief Political Anchor Dennis House talks with Bob Stefanowski

Ben Proto, the chairperson of the state’s GOP, sees this year’s election as a “generational opportunity,” given voter frustration over rising inflation, high gas prices and past mask mandates in schools.

“At the end of the day, Connecticut has become unaffordable under the Democrats — and they’ve had control of the state for roughly 40 years, on and off,” Proto said.

VIDEO: News 8’s Chief Political Anchor Dennis House talks with Connecticut Republican Party chair Ben Proto

The Lamont campaign fired back, issuing the following statement:

“It’s not surprising to see Bob make up fake facts about our state’s economy. But voters know the truth, and they see it in their pocketbooks. Governor Lamont’s leadership turned our state’s finances around, created a $4.8 billion surplus, and made our state stronger than ever. Bob is too extreme for Connecticut, he opposes paid leave and a minimum wage and opposed the Governor’s $600 million tax cut as ‘pandering’. His policies would lead us to a financial disaster just to benefit his Trump-supporting allies. Voters know that Governor Lamont will continue to fight for them and keep making Connecticut stronger year after year.”

Jake Lewis, spokesperson for the Lamont campaign

Republicans on Friday also endorsed state Rep. Laura Devlin, R-Fairfield, for lieutenant governor; state Rep. Harry Arora, R-Greenwich, for state treasurer; and Norwalk lawyer Jessica Kordas for state attorney general. On Saturday, Republicans will choose candidates for U.S. Senate, secretary of the state and comptroller.

Stay tuned to News 8 for updates on the Republican and Democratic Conventions throughout the weekend.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.