All eyes on next year’s race for CT governor at annual Republican dinner


STAMFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — More than 500 party faithful gather for the annual Republican Prescott Bush Dinner Thursday night. Trinkets of years past for sale. Dinner at $250 a plate. Someone in the room could be the next Republican nominee for governor.

Ben Proto, the Connecticut Republican state party chair, was excited. “It’s our first Bush dinner since 2019; we’re thrilled to be back together.”

A recent public policy poll has Governor Ned Lamont with a double-digit lead over his last opponent, businessman Bob Stefanowski. 

“He’s been on a public relations tour for three years to barely have 50% of the people willing to keep him in office, he should be worried right now,” Stefanowski said.

Rumored as a contender: former House Republican Leader Themis Klarides. In the poll, she was further behind in a head-to-head matchup with Lamont.

“We have the eighth-most expensive state in the nation, the second-highest taxes in the United States of America, and the top five unemployment. That is not a record of success. That’s a record of failure,” Klarides told News 8.

Chairman Proto says he sees a trend. “If I were Lamont, I’d be worried that my reelect number is at 50% and I think the last poll had his reelect number a little higher than that so he starting to fall.”

When the Pollster asked respondents how Governor Lamont is handling crime he lost ground. 

In a statement a News 8, the Democratic State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo said, “The PPP poll shows Governor Lamont is doing a very good job. The voters of Connecticut support his agenda on education, the economy, health care, and public health protocols, despite the incessant Republican fear-mongering. The voters of Connecticut clearly know the difference between real leadership and political bluster.”

Stefanowski says in no way is it bluster.“When you have teenagers stealing 1,324 cars with no accountability I don’t care what the statistics say, crime is a problem.”

Klarides agrees. “We saw what happened to the poor woman in Marlborough who just went to the supermarket and she got carjacked. Those are things that don’t happen in Connecticut yet the governor doesn’t believe there’s a problem.”

Neither has decided whether they are officially running. For his part, Governor Lamont hasn’t announced he wants the job again either.

The keynote speaker at Thursday’s dinner was Louisiana Senator John Kennedy. He banned the press from the room. Those inside say he was entertaining and did not say anything inappropriate.

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