First Selectman Jayme Stevenson will primary for the office of Lieutenant Governor after earning and exceeding the required 15% delegate support at last weekend’s Republican convention.
“It was probably some of the most focused work I’ve ever done. I had to talk to various small groups over the course of two days,” she said.
After touring the state and visiting various Republican Town Committees, and being assured their support, things change rapidly at the convention, she said.
Stevenson earned 220 delegate votes at the convention, or 19.86%. New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who changed her race from governor to lieutenant governor the day before the convention vote, earned 290 votes or 26.17%. Sen. Joe Markley, who reps Southington, earned 594 votes or 53.61%.
“You can walk away and know you have their support and then things turn in a different direction, and they’ve made some kind of deal. Then you have to go back and ‘re-court’ them,’” she said.
Regardless of the hard work, it was “fun and energizing,” Stevenson said.
“I enjoyed the connection with people. When I had the opportunity to connect, they understood and appreciated the skill I bring to the ticket. Sometimes it was enough, sometimes it wasn’t,” she said.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was the party’s choice for the gubernatorial nomination, with 50.1% support on the third ballot, up from just over of 42% on the second.
Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst finished second. Steve Obsitnik was third with 19.8% of the vote on the third ballot before releasing his delegates to support one of the two front-runners. All three qualified for the primary based on the percentage of delegates.
Herbst said he was confident he was well-positioned to win the August primary. He won two congressional districts (the 2nd and 3rd) at the convention Saturday and nearly tied two others (the 1st and 4th).
In all, Herbst received just over 40% of the total vote on the third and final round of balloting.
Herbst won the 2nd Congressional District by a 2-1 margin over Boughton. The district, located in the eastern part of the state, includes Windham, Tolland, New London, and most of Middlesex counties. He also won the 3rd District, the New Haven area.
Boughton ran strongest in the 5th District, which includes northern Fairfield and most of Litchfield counties.
Stewart’s decision to change her candidacy to lieutenant governor impacted her race outcome, Stevenson said.
“I exceeded my goal and got 20% of delegate support but I think I would have done even better had Erin Stewart not dropped into the race the day before the vote. I don’t think I would have gotten all of her votes but I certainly would have gotten some,” Stevenson said.
Columnist Kevin Rennie called Stewart’s move “the most vivid and public moment of treachery so far this year” politically against her running mate, Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei.
“Having attracted far more attention than delegates, Stewart jumped, on the eve of the convention, from her shambles of a campaign for governor to a bid for the second spot,” Rennie wrote.
Tesei dropped out of the lieutenant governor race after Stewart entered it.
The Hartford Courant reported of a potential ticket alliance between Boughton and Stewart. Boughton came out of the convention with the required 50% for endorsement after what attendees called much high stakes deal making among gubernatorial candidates.
“Stewart, who previously boasted that Boughton tried to draft her to be his running mate, confirmed that she plans to cast her vote for Boughton,” the Courant reported after she dropped out of the governor race.
“‘Erin has to focus on Erin. Mark has got to take care of Mark,’ Boughton, wearing a Trump golf course polo under a sport jacket, said when asked of a potential alliance. ‘Certainly, Erin has a lot of positives,” the Courant reported Boughton saying.
Despite the rigorousness of the convention, Stevenson is energized for the primary in August — and looks forward to reaching out to what she says is the biggest population in the state — Independents — as well as fiscally-conservative Democrats.
Markley earned the over 50% to have the endorsement of the caucus, but Stevenson contends in the end it’s about “who has the best advantage to be successful given the makeup of voting in our state.”
In terms of who would be her ideal running mate as governor, Stevenson said she now has time to look at all of the potential candidates and make a decision as to who she thinks is the most qualified.
And additionally, the top ticket needs to be electable enough to bring in the state candidates running for office which will be “riding on their coattails,” she said.
In the end, Stevenson praised her team of campaign workers and Darien delegates who supported her and kept her going.
“They believed in me and what my candidacy can bring to a ticket. Their strength helped motivate me throughout the weekend. It was a lot of hard work, and they were awesome,” she said.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who finished with 10.5% of the vote on the first ballot and 9.2% on the second roll call, has said he will attempt to petition onto the primary ballot for governor, as have David Stemerman and Robert “Bob” Stefanowski.
Before leaving for the convention on Friday, Stevenson told The Darien Times she is a very different candidate that someone like Markley, with very different job responsibilities.
“He works with colleagues in Hartford every day, and has built those legislative relationships. We have a different skill set and different body of experience,” she said.
“We need leadership in Hartford who knows how to manage the relationship between state and local governments, and understands the impacts of legalization of laws and mandates,” Stevenson said.
As far as Darien residents, Stevenson said all she’s talked to have been extremely supportive of her run as she continues to raise the necessary funds.
“I have to raise $75,000 in not more than $100 increments by June 10 or 11 — that’s the drop dead date. I’m halfway there,” she said Thursday.
“I have gotten great support and continue to get the support from my community to reach that goal. The Darien Republican Town Committee has been fantastic and really supportive,” she said.
“it’s time for people to stop supporting candidates who don’t have their backs. They’ve had over 30 years to try their play book. It’s time for a new team, new ideas and real fiscal discipline in place. People want to stay here in Connecticut,” she said.
The Republican primary will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Additional reporting by HAN Network’s Don Eng and Aaron Berkowitz