Almost primary day, for some of us
Tuesday is primary day, if you’re registered as a Republican or Democrat. For the rest of us, it is just another summer day. But it will determine who all of us can choose from on Nov. 6. Even those with long experience in politics tell me several of these races are near impossible to predict.
Let’s start with an easy one. Despite his odd, uninspiring commercials, Ned Lamont will defeat Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. As lackluster as Lamont’s campaign has been, I cannot imagine a majority of Democratic voters opting for Ganim, who spent seven years in prison after his conviction on corruption charges during his first stint as Bridgeport mayor.
The question is how big a victory. If this race is remotely close, that will not bode well for Lamont’s prospects in the general election.
The outcome of the five-way Republican gubernatorial race is far harder to project.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was the convention choice, but I sense no excitement surrounding his candidacy. Having tried for this office before, Boughton comes across as one of those “my turn” candidates. In recent elections voters have been rejecting those guys. And despite his nonsense about repealing the state income tax — in 10 years — Boughton is an old-school centrist Connecticut Republican at a time when the party’s base has moved right.
Which brings me to former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, who I am predicting will win, but a pick I make without much confidence. Herbst has made the strongest play for the hardcore Trump supporters in Connecticut. He is a staunch Second Amendment advocate, has rejected Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s criminal justice reforms with an old-fashioned tough-on-crime appeal, railed against “sanctuary cities,” and suggested he is ready to go all Scott Walker on the state labor unions.
At the same time, Herbst’s TV ads present a moderate tone. My impression is that the Trump Republicans are buying what Herbst is selling, and if he combines those votes with moderate votes attracted by the kinder, gentler ads, he could get the 30 percent that could win this thing.
Also in the running is businessman David Stemerman, who has actually provided the most substance in how he would deal with the state’s fiscal problems. His attack ads have been devastating, neutralizing competing businessman Bob Stefanowski. The danger for Stemerman is he went too negative, too often to get the votes he needs to win.
I would be surprised to see Steve Obsitnik, who faced a long delay in getting his public campaign funds, make a serious run at winning.
Outside of the governor’s race, the most-watched contest is the 5th congressional district Democratic primary. Party endorsed candidate Mary Glassman, a political veteran who previously ran for lieutenant governor and is the former Simsbury first selectwoman, is opposed by upstart challenger Jahana Hayes, a national teacher of the year recipient with natural charisma.
While I haven’t followed this race close enough to predict an outcome, I do note primary voters across the nation have been opting for new faces.
Another race to watch is 33rd District state Sen. Art Linares’s bid to become the Republican candidate for treasurer. He faces Thad Gray of Salisbury, the endorsed party candidate. If Linares wins he should send a thank-you card to Haddam Selectwoman Melissa Schlag. Her decision to take a knee in an anti-Trump protest during the Pledge of Allegiance gave Linares the chance to show his patriotic fervor by attacking her. Haddam is in his district.
It was blatant pandering, but could play well in the primary.
Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.
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