For months, each has made the case that his business experience is what’s needed to fix Connecticut’s fiscal ills. On Tuesday, voters have their say in the race between Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski that’s shaping up to be every bit as close as the state’s last few governor races.
The vote for governor headlines midterm balloting in Connecticut that includes a re-election bid for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, contests for the state’s five U.S. House seats and other statewide and local races.
Stefanowski, of Madison, and Lamont, of Greenwich, lead a pack of five men vying to succeed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who narrowly won the state’s top office in 2010 and 2014. Polling has indicated the race is a statistical tie.
Stefanowski has painted Lamont as a clone of the unpopular Malloy who would preside over tax increases. Sensing an opportunity to take back control of a statehouse, the Republican Governors Association has helped to fund campaign television advertisements attacking Lamont.
Lamont, in turn, has accused Stefanowski of proposing a reckless tax-cutting plan and being a threat to Connecticut’s values, including the state’s strong gun control laws and protections for women.
“We need change,” Lamont says in a recent TV ad. “But we don’t need to change who we are.”
Oz Griebel, an independent candidate for governor, has tried to persuade voters to ditch both parties and back “a leadership team that’s going to focus on you as the taxpayer, the resident and the employer.”
The winner will face severe financial challenges for the state. Besides large, unfunded pension liabilities and major transportation infrastructure needs, the next fiscal year is projected to be more than $2 billion in deficit. A typical one-year state budget is roughly $20 billion.
Libertarian Rod Hanscomb and Mark Stewart Greenstein, co-founder of Americans for Minimal Government Party, are also on the ballot. Polls are open until 8 p.m.