Twelve years after first appearing on the political stage as an upstart liberal insurgent, Democrat Ned Lamont won the election on Tuesday to be Connecticut’s next governor. He defeated Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski.
Lamont, a wealthy businessman who spent $12 million of his own fortune on the election, won a closely fought race that revolved around taxes, health care and the state’s falling population and lack of job creation.
Lamon prevailed despite the unpopularity of outgoing Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy, which was an anchor dragging him down. Malloy’s unpopularity stems from his passage of the state’s largest tax increase in 2011 and, despite that tax increase, continued government budget cuts. Meanwhile, the state has seen an incredibly unequal recovery from the Great Recession, with its many wealthy residents recouping their losses while the middle class and poor have suffered amid a climate of stagnant job growth.
Lamont first shot into political stardom in 2006 when he challenged then-Sen. Joe Lieberman in a Democratic Party primary election from the left. Lamont ran specifically against Lieberman’s vote to give President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq. His campaign was backed by bloggers known as the Netroots, who advocated for pushing the Democratic Party further to the left. He defeated Lieberman in the primary, but the former vice presidential nominee quit the Democratic Party and won re-election as an independent on the Connecticut for Lieberman Party line.
This was Lamont’s second bid for the state’s governorship. In 2010, he ran in the Democratic Party primary against Malloy, but lost.