Lamont wins Democratic primary for governor

Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont celebrates after defeating Joe Ganim in the Democratic primary in New Haven, Conn., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont celebrates after defeating Joe Ganim in the Democratic primary in New Haven, Conn., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Businessman Ned Lamont has won the Democratic nomination for Connecticut governor, defeating Bridgeport mayor and ex-convict Joe Ganim in Tuesday's primary.

Lamont's win comes 12 years after he defeated the party's then-veteran U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in a Democratic showdown that was viewed nationally as a referendum on the war in Iraq. Lamont later lost in the general election when Lieberman ran as an independent.

As in 2006, Lamont is hoping to ride a wave of national discontentment among Democrats. He has promised on the campaign trail to "fight to keep this place Connecticut Blue" and to "save Connecticut" from the policies of President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, whether it's the weakening of environmental standards, limiting of access to abortion or scaling back of union members' rights.

"We're going in the wrong direction with what's going on in Washington, D.C., right now. We're going to start going in the right direction here in Connecticut," Lamont says in an early campaign ad.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, is not running for a third term.

Lamont, of Greenwich, has called for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, more funding for local education, electronic tolls for heavy trucks, and paid family and medical leave. A financially successful founder of a small cable company, Lamont contends he has both the business and people skills to bring various groups together to help solve the state's ongoing budget problems.

He often speaks about being an outsider and about how the "political class" has failed taxpayers and state employees.

"I'm going to be that guy who brings real change to Hartford, and I'm going to do it fearlessly, and I'm going to bring smart business practices," said Lamont, who has run a series of folksy, plainspoken TV ads where he talks often about the problems facing the state's middle class.

Ganim attempted to portray Lamont during the primary campaign as an out-of-touch millionaire who lacks the government experience needed to address major problems facing the state, such as unfunded state employee pension liability or a projected budget deficit of more than $2 billion when the new governor takes over next year.

"I don't think it's time for on-the-job training when Connecticut is still in a fiscal mess," Ganim said in a recent debate.

Ganim, 58, served seven years in prison for steering city contracts as mayor from 1991 to 2003 in exchange for cash, wine, clothes and home improvements. A former attorney, Ganim also lost his law license.

Still, he was elected again as Bridgeport's mayor in 2015 — just five years after his release from prison — and he has pitched himself as someone who learned from his mistakes and came back from adversity.

The 64-year-old Lamont, who graduated from Harvard College and Yale University's School of Management, appeared reticent during the primary campaign to throw many strong punches at Ganim, who has a strong base of support in the state's largest city. But at their final debate last week, when asked if he'd support Ganim if he won the primary, Lamont answered flatly, "Probably not." He said he wants the next governor to be someone who "leads with integrity."

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