April 8, 2018
With less than six weeks before the state political party conventions, a new poll shows that New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart is gaining strength in her bid to be Connecticut’s next governor.
The online poll by a Hartford-based public affairs and lobbying firm showed Stewart with 22.7 percent, up from 15.2 percent in mid-February.
While Stewart had the highest total among the named candidates, the leader in the poll is the generic “Republican candidate for governor’’ at 26.3 percent. The generic Democratic candidate received 20.1 percent.
Behind Stewart, the top candidates were former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz at 12.3 percent, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton at 8.7 percent, and Greenwich business entrepreneur Ned Lamont at 6.6 percent.
The poll was conducted by Tremont Public Advisors, LLC, a federal lobbying firm that is headed by longtime Hartford political operative Matthew J. Hennessy. While he has served in the past as a political consultant and fundraiser for Democrats, Hennessy says he is not currently working for any candidate.
Stewart’s lack of participation in recent Republican debates has actually boomeranged to help her, Hennessy said.
“She was kept out of two debates, and that was covered extensively,’’ Hennessy told Capitol Watch in an interview. “That dynamic works to her advantage. She got a lot of publicity for that.’’
Many Democrats, Hennessy said, would prefer not to run against Stewart because she would be expected to have support among women — a key voting bloc in the general election in November.
“Democrats, if they had to choose, would prefer a conventional Republican — not someone who will eat into their base,’’ he said.
The poll of more than 1,000 Connecticut residents, which was taken from April 4 to 6, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
In a huge field, multiple candidates received little support in the poll as write-in candidates. Those receiving less than 1 percent each included Hartford mayor Luke Bronin, former Trumbull first selectman Timothy Herbst, longtime business executive Oz Griebel, Shelton mayor Mark Lauretti, former West Hartford mayor Jonathan Harris, attorney Peter Lumaj, Stamford chief financial officer Mike Handler, and retired banking executive Jim Smith.
Smith was mentioned as a “write-in’’ in the poll, even though he is still an undeclared candidate who only recently began considering running.
“I believe to my core that I would bring to the governor’s office the experience, leadership skills and commitment needed to work with the legislature to bring about the changes needed to put our state government and economy back on solid footing, and ensure a prosperous future for everyone who calls our wonderful state home,’’ Smith said in a statement. “Recognizing that time is short, I’ve been rapidly completing a serious analysis of what it would take to win the nomination and the ensuing election - from building a first-rate campaign team, to raising a considerable amount of funding, to meeting the criteria to secure the Republican nomination.’’
Smith added, “I have also been consulting with family and friends and will reach a decision soon.’’