Favorite son: Greenwich Dems endorse Lamont
GREENWICH — In next Tuesday’s primary, gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont can likely count on the homefield advantage when it comes to Greenwich’s votes.
Lamont, a town resident, received the formal endorsement of Greenwich’s Democratic Town Committee ahead of his primary against Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim for the Democratic nomination.
“The November election for governor is an important first step in the state’s turnaround,” Chair Tony Turner said in a statement Tuesday as the DTC took the rare step of making the endorsement. “Democrats need to field the strongest candidate in November to help the Connecticut get on a fiscally sound path and be the vibrant state we were, and with Ned’s leadership we will be again.”
The endorsement from the DTC’s Executive Committee was “overwhelming” in its support with no abstentions or votes against Lamont, Turner said. The DTC does not plan to make any other endorsements in the primary. In the past, the local body has not issued them during a party primary.
But Turner said these were “unusual times” and pointed to Ganim’s 2003 conviction on corruption charges while serving as Bridgeport’s mayor.
“The unique circumstances are the facts around Mr. Ganim spending seven years in federal prison for political-corruption crimes,” Turner said. “The Greenwich Democratic Party believes elected officials must be held to the highest standards of integrity, honesty and transparency.”
Ganim was convicted of several charges, including racketeering, extortion and bribery. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and served seven years before his release. Ganim then began a political comeback and was re-elected mayor in a landslide in 2015.
Lamont, a former member of Greenwich’s Board of Selectmen and Board of Estimate and Taxation, rose to national prominence in 2006 when, running largely on the strength of a position against the Iraq War, defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a staunch proponent of the war, in a Democratic primary.
The defeat of a former Democratic vice presidential nominee in a primary created national headlines, but Lamont has not been able to repeat the success. Lieberman ran as an independent and easily won the November election.
Lamont also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010, losing to Dannel Malloy in the primary.
Turner offered high praise for Lamont in announcing the DTC’s endorsement.
“Many in our community know Ned as a neighbor, businessman, elected official and friend,” Turner said. “He is a man of great integrity, ethics and honesty who puts his dedication to serving above self-interest. More than ever, we need that moral strength and leadership.”
A spokesman for the Ganim campaign could not be reached for comment.
However, Ganim does have at least some Greenwich support. Frank Farricker, a former DTC chair himself, spoke out for his candidacy on Tuesday.
“After following the primary closely, I was surprised to realize that Joe Ganim was far more aware of and had solid prescriptions for turning Connecticut around,” Farricker said. “Like many, I was very troubled by his conviction, but I am convinced of his sincere contrition. He gets it, has run a far superior campaign and far more people in Greenwich agree with me.”
Greenwich has several other local candidates on next Tuesday’s ballot. On the Democratic ticket, Greenwich resident Dita Bhargava is running for the state treasurer spot against Shawn Wooden, a former Hartford City Council president. And for the Republicans, David Stemerman, a town resident and hedge fund founder, is one of five candidates seeking the gubernatorial nomination against Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Tim Herbst of Trumbull, Steve Obsitnik of Westport, and Bob Stefanowski of Madison.
Richard DiPreta, chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee, said the party would not be offering any official endorsements for the primary. He said Republicans are focused on retaking the governor’s mansion and staking a majority in the state legislature in the November election.
“Historically the Greenwich RTC has not endorsed candidates during primaries,” DiPreta said Tuesday. “But we encourage all Republicans to vote to turn around Connecticut from a decade of failed leadership by the Democrats.”