NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – News 8 is your local election headquarters, and the 2022 election season kicked into high gear with Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski announcing he’s making another run for governor.

As the GOP nominee in 2018, Stefanowski lost a close race to Democrat, and ever since, he continued to criticize the Lamont Administration and Democratic leadership in the state’s big cities.

News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina was granted Stefanowski’s first television interview since Wednesday morning’s announcement. The 59-year-old Madison resident sat down for a wide-ranging interview.

Stefanowski tackled how this run will be different from the last, and what his plan is to make Connecticut better. He said he made an initial $10 million investment of his own money into his campaign.

“The initial commitment is $10 million. We’ll see how that goes, but I think it gives us a really, really nice jump-off point to start to tell our story and contrast my leadership style and being able to put the people of Connecticut first, rather than Gov. Lamont, who in my opinion, has put the politicians first,” Stefanowski said. “People in Connecticut . . . they want change, and they’re not happy with the way the state is going. We’ve got a detailed plan to do it. I’ve got a history of doing it, and we’re going to win this thing.”

Stefanowski questions how the state is spending billions in surplus dollars and in federal COVID relief money.

“We are going to hire an inspector general to audit every single department of the state of Connecticut. We are going to find out where that money is being spent. We’re going to look at the $6 billion of COVID relief money we got and where that was spent,” he said.

WEB EXTRA | In his first television interview since announcing his bid for governor, Bob Stefanowksi sits down with News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina. Watch the full interview in the video player below.

Other Republicans are interested in becoming governor. Former State Representative and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides is exploring a run for governor. She has spent nearly $400,000 of her own money. Retired business executive Susan Patricelli Regan, 77, who appeared on This Week in Connecticut with Dennis House, also filed papers to run for governor. She said she has raised less than $7,000.

Lamont was asked Tuesday what he thought about the possibility of a rematch with his 2018 opponent.

“I’m gonna focus like a laser beam on the pandemic, focus on keeping our kids in school, focus on keeping our economy open,” Lamont said. “Look it’s political season, people are going to get in the race. I think Bob’s been running for the last five years, so nothing is going to change all that much. I’m gonna focus on governing.”

“Bob Stefanowski is too extreme for Connecticut. His economic plan for our state would have devastated schools, rolled back health care, and laid off health care workers. He has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA and opposed commonsense legislation passed in the wake of Sandy Hook. When it comes to working families, he opposes having a minimum wage altogether. And when asked to grade Donald Trump as President, he give him an ‘A’ and called Trump’s endorsement of his candidacy “pretty cool.” While Bob Stefanowski promotes an extreme agenda, Governor Lamont has fixed the state budget, built up a record rainy day fund, enacted paid family leave, supported small businesses, and attracted major companies to our state – all without tax increases. He’s overseeing the most successful vaccine roll-out in the nation with strong, steady leadership at a time when Connecticut needs it most. And he’s done it by bringing people from both parties together, working in a bipartisan fashion. The contrast is incredibly clear. While Governor Lamont is leading our state out of a global health crisis, fixing our budget, and supporting businesses big and small, Bob Stefanowski has an extreme agenda that would take our state backwards.”

Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo

“Connecticut has some of the most honest, hard-working people in the country.  But we are being short-changed by leaders prioritizing politics over people. Over the past three years, our state has become less affordable and more dangerous for the good people who live, work, and go to school here. We already have some of the highest taxes, utilities, and childcare costs in the country, and runaway inflation is making it even worse. Nearly everything is more expensive in Connecticut than in the rest of the country. Crime is rising across our state, residents feel less safe, and law enforcement is demoralized because of policies coming out of our state government. I’m running because I fundamentally believe that by working together, we can change Connecticut. I’m running for Governor to make government work for the people of Connecticut, not political insiders. It’s time for new leaders who will focus on delivering results to the people of Connecticut rather than personal political agendas. People in Connecticut are not asking for a lot. They want to be safe, to trust that state government is being open and accountable, and to be able to afford to live, work, and retire here. Unfortunately, these are not the priorities of the current state leadership, who continue to serve the political insiders more than they do the people they represent. I have the experience, a plan to accomplish it, and as a political outsider, I’m not afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it means making Connecticut stronger, safer and more accountable.  And that is exactly what I am going to do as your Governor.”

Bob Stefanowski’s official statement announcing his run for governor