Lieutenant governor run: Stevenson heads to GOP convention

Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson, who is seeking to be the state’s next lieutenant governor, told The Darien Times regardless of the outcome of this week’s Republican convention she’s the better for the run.

“Connecticut is a very different place outside of the southwestern part of the state in terms of its geography and economy. It’s bucolic and beautiful and underscores my thoughts that while some like to say 169 towns make us inefficient, I think it makes us so unique and special,” she said.

Among Republican lieutenant governor candidates, Stevenson faces off against Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei and Sen. Joe Markley, who represents Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury.

In order to primary, Stevenson must earn 15% of delegate votes — which she feels she will earn. If not, Stevenson said she will “graciously step aside,” versus seek petition signatures.

The governor race for the GOP endorsement is crowded — and Stevenson said the lieutenant governor race is the last of Saturday night at the convention — being held at Foxwoods.

Because of the timing, and the number of them, she said some governor candidates may drop to the lieutenant race if they do not earn the 15% needed to move on.

Governor candidates include Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Tim Herbst, the former Trumbull first selectman, and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who has declared Tesei her running mate.

Other candidates include Peter Lumaj, former congressional candidate Steve Obstinik, and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, among others.

Stevenson will be joined at Foxwoods by Darien delegates and members of her campaign, including Selectman Susan Marks, former Board of Finance Chairman Liz Mao, and Taylor Carter.

As far as handling her full time job and campaign, while it’s been “very busy juggling both, I made a promise to the people of Darien and I believe I have successfully done that.”

What helps is that the town wrapped up its budget process several weeks ago, which Stevenson said was a “rigorous time.” That budget, which came below the previous year’s, goes before the RTM on Monday.

Stevenson said 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.

She pointed out that creating those laws on a theoretical basis vs. managing those laws and paying for them are very different jobs.

“I do hope the delegates at the convention will consider those things,” she 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.

“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.

One of the big advantages Stevenson said she has is “crossover” electability.

“It is simply impossible for Republican candidates to win in Connecticut without the crossover support of independents and fiscally conservative Democrats. I have demonstrated electability,” she said.

In terms of crossover, Stevenson pointed out as a Republican she won her fourth term in a landslide victory in 2017 over her Democratic opponent, despite Democrat Hillary Clinton (5,774 votes) taking Darien over Republican President Donald Trump (4,601) in 2016.

“I have gotten really positive support from local regional Democrats. It underscores overall electability,” she said.

Overall, Stevenson maintains that it is time for a leadership change in Connecticut.

“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.

“With the right people in place, we can bring prosperity back to the state. It won’t be overnight, and part of the solution is going to be pretty painful, and with traditionally protected constituencies. But it has to happen  — there’s no alternative,” Stevenson said.

That’s the message that Stevenson said she’s been bringing around the the state.

“We do that every day in Darien — we stick to our priorities and to a fiscally disciplined financial plan. That is woefully missing in state government,” Stevenson said.

On a personal note, Stevenson said she knew when she got into the race she’d be expecting a lot of positive and negative feedback.

“Politics is a bloodsport, but in the end I am very hopeful I will be successful and carry the kind of leadership I employ in Darien to the state — and will do that proudly.

In the end, Stevenson returned to her point that anyone running for state office should meet people from all over the state who have different problems and priorities.

“It’s important to know those things and be willing to be a leader for all those people  — not just for your own self interest,” Stevenson said.

The Republican Convention started Friday morning at Foxwoods and continues through Sunday. The Democratic convention is at the convention center in Hartford the weekend of May 19.

Primaries for the November election will take place mid-August.