Election Preview: 2018 Connecticut Gubernatorial Primary

Primary Elections: August 14th, 2018
General Elections: November 6th, 2018

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Governor Dan Malloy (D-CT)

In April 2017, Governor Dan Malloy (D) announced he would not seek a third term. According to a February Morning Consult poll, Malloy had a 23-percent approval rating, the second lowest of any governor. In lieu of his low job performance, more than 20 candidates have expressed interest to run as his successor.

In the Democratic primary, eight candidates are seeking the nomination in a muddled field with no clear favorite. However, three candidates have strong resumes that could make them viable contenders. Susan Bysiewicz, a three-term Connecticut Secretary of State and 2012 U.S. Senate primary candidate, is the only candidate of either party to previously hold statewide office. Former State Senator Jonathan Harris jumped into the primary in late February 2018. An experienced political operative in Connecticut, Harris served as the state’s executive director of the Democratic Party during Malloy’s reelection bid in 2014, and then oversaw the State Department of Consumer Protection. Harris has gained support from almost 85 Democratic organizations and 60 individual leaders across different sectors.

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Former CT State Senator Jonathan Harris

Businessman and 2006 Senate nominee Ned Lamont is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Lamont came out as an early supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, serving as his campaign’s co-chair in Connecticut. He sought the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor but was unsuccessful.  He’s advocated for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, establishing paid family and medical leave rules, and strong protections against workplace harassment.  Others seeking the nomination include Sean Connolly, a former state Commissioner for Veterans Affairs and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve; Steve Cassano, Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate; Joe Ganim, Mayor of Bridgeport; Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and State Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney.

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Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton

In the Republican primary, another crowded field has made it difficult for a favorite to emerge. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a 2014 gubernatorial candidate with an impressive record, has good chance of winning. Before becoming mayor, Boughton represented his district in the state house while also serving six years in the U.S. Army Reserve. While she has not officially announced her candidacy, Antonietta “Toni” Boucher has expressed interest in running. She’s a member of the Connecticut Senate where she has worked on education and transportation committees as deputy minority leader. Another strong candidate is Bob Stefanowski, a former General Electric division chief, and Chief Officer of the European Corporate Financial Services Branch. He advocates for phasing out income tax, and state tax, reduce spending, and enacting a taxpayer bill of rights.

Other GOP nominees include Mike Handler, 2014 State Treasurer nominee; Tim Herbst, Shelton Mayor; Mark Lauretti, attorney; Peter Lumaj, private citizen; Eric Mastroianni, businessman; Stephen Obsitnik, state representative; Prasad Srinivasan, hedge fund manager; New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart; and former United States Comptroller General David Walker.

Inside Elections has categorized the 2018 gubernatorial race as “lean Democratic,” while the Cook Political Report has said it’s a “toss-up.”

Election Recap: 2018 Illinois Gubernatorial Primary

Illinois gubernatorial candidates Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker will square off in the November general election after clinching their party’s respective nominations Tuesday night. Pritzker easily took the Democratic field, defeating his closest competitors by a 20-point margin. As the incumbent, Governor Rauner, narrowly fended off a challenge from his political right by State Representative Jeanne Ives. Rauner took 51.6 percent of the vote, while Ives had 48.4 percent, making it far tighter than pollsters had originally predicted. The Governor performed well in Cook County, while Ives picked up support in the counties outside Chicago and in rural regions.

However, Rauner’s primary performance could spell trouble. Illinois has a strong base of Democratic support, and a low-recognition candidate like Ives demonstrates the Governor’s political vulnerability.

Pritzker, who faced allegation surrounding his offshore banking accounts, as well as private FBI tapes, had outperformed expectations. With the support of powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, and an energized Democratic base, Pritzker sailed to victory with 45 percent of the vote among five other candidates. State Senator Daniel Biss captured around 27 percent, while Chris Kennedy had 24 percent.

Rauner versus Pritzker, a multimillionaire and a billionaire, respectively, has the ability to become the most expensive gubernatorial race in American history. They have already flooded the Land of Lincoln with a combined $150 million in campaign cash, less than seven months before the general election (the record was set in 2010, when Democrat Jerry Brown defeated Republican Meg Whitman after they raised a combined $280 million to run for Governor of California).

For more information on the Illinois gubernatorial race, check out our primary preview.