President Trump tweets endorsement of Republican Bob Stefanowski

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Republican Bob Stefanowski early Wednesday, hours after his victory in a crowded gubernatorial primary solidified his place on the ballot in November. 

“It is about time that Connecticut had a real and talented Governor. Bob Stefanowski is the person needed to do the job,” Trump said in a tweet Wednesday morning, a day after Stefanowski defeated four other Republicans to run for governor in the fall.

This endorsement sparked a sharp back-and-forth between Stefanowski and his oppenent, Democrat Ned Lamont.

Responding to Trump’s endorsement, Lamont tweeted: “Bob Trumpanowski.” Within minutes, Stefanowski fired back: “Ned Malloy.”

With primary results still fresh, comments are already framing the race as the battle of Trump versus Malloy — two politicans that have run afoul of voters both inside and outside of their parties.

Stefanowski, an outsider who followed a somewhat unorthodox pathway to candidacy, skipped the Republican party’s convention earlier this year, and opted to introduce himself to voters through television advertisements. He later petitioned his way onto the five-way primary.

“So I think it’s fair to say this campaign has been underestimated from the start,” Stefanowski said after his victory Tuesday. “I don’t think anybody really thought we would be standing up here right now. We’ve proved them wrong and we’re going to prove them wrong when we beat Ned Lamont in November.”

Trump offered resounding support for Stefanowski on Twitter, a platform he has used to attack Connecticut Democrats. “Tough on crime, Bob is also a big cutter of taxes. He will win in November and make a Great Governor, a major difference maker. Bob has my total Endorsement!”

Malloy said that Stefanowski’s win Tuesday was a win for Trump. “He wants to bring Trump to Connecticut. He wants to bring Trump-style politics to Connecticut,” said Malloy, who has been at odds with Trump since the 2016 presidential election. All the Republican candidates had the opportunity to distance themselves from Trump, Malloy contends, but none took it.

Republicans are already poised to link Lamont to Malloy. Within minutes of Lamont being declared the winner Tuesday night, the Republican Governor’s Association released a statement attacking “Malloy Enabler Ned Lamont,” whom they described as “an out-of-touch politician who has promised, if elected, to continue Dan Malloy’s failed policies.”

In a three-sentence statement, the association mentioned Lamont three times – and Malloy three times. “Connecticut desperately needs a governor who will turn the page on the Dan Malloy era,” the statement concludes, “but Ned Lamont would only continue it for a third term.”

But it appears Lamont is attempting to distance himself from Malloy, who has come through in polls as one of the nation’s least popular governors.

Lamont posted a new ad Wednesday morning taking aim at “a generation of failed political leadership” from both parties.

“When my wife Annie and I moved to Connecticut in our 20s, we thought we hit the jackpot,” Lamont says in the ad. “But now, after a generation of failed political leadership by Republican and Democratic governors, too many of our kids and businesses are fleeing the state. I’m going to change that.”

Lamont then pledges to invest in education and “good-paying jobs” while also cutting local property taxes, with the populist message: “The middle class has paid enough.”

Addressing the media Wednesday, Lamont further distanced himself from any comparisons. “I’m a different breed of cat,” he said, “I’m going to work with Republicans and Democrats.”

The Greenwich businessman added: “I’m going to make people know the choice they’ve got coming up in November.”

If Democrats are successful at making the governor’s race a referendum on Trump, they numbers are clearly in their favor.

In 2016, Clinton won nearly 55 percent of the vote in the state, compared to 41 percent for Trump. State voters, however, appear to have moved slightly to the right since. While the lion’s share of voters have no party affiliation, the portion of active voters who are Republican has inched up since Trump’s election, from 21.7 percent to 21.9 percent, while the Democratic share has slipped from 37.5 percent to 36.8 percent.

J.R. Romano, head of the state’s Republican party, dismissed any effort to define this as a race between Trump and Malloy.

“The Democrats may want to frame it that way, but the truth is Connecticut is literally ranked at the bottom of every economic metric and that’s a direct result of Dan Malloy and the Democrats of this state,” Romano said.

He added: “We are looking to hold the Democrats and Dan Malloy accountable for that disaster that has been the last eight years.”


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