Democrat Ned Lamont Wins Connecticut Governor's Race


After suffering statewide campaign losses in 2006 and 2010, Democrat Ned Lamont finally emerged victorious on Wednesday to become Connecticut’s next governor.

The tight race between Mr. Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski, also a businessman, stretched into the morning. Mr. Stefanowski said he called Mr. Lamont to concede and wish him success.

In his first remarks as governor-elect, Mr. Lamont, 64, said he looked forward to working with lawmakers in both parties as well as labor leaders and the business community. He said he would choose a transition team by the end of the week.

“I’ve got to bring people together,” Mr. Lamont said. “Tomorrow is a fresh start for the state of Connecticut.”

Mr. Lamont became a household name in Connecticut in 2006 when he beat then-Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary. He would lose to Mr. Lieberman, who ran under a third party, in the general election. Mr. Lamont then ran for governor in 2010, losing to Gov. Dannel Malloy in the Democratic primary.

Addressing the state’s fiscal crisis and a $4.4 billion budget hole for the next biennium budget will be among the Lamont administration’s most pressing problems in 2019. Mr. Lamont has an advantage that departing Democratic Gov. Malloy doesn’t have: a legislature controlled by fellow Democrats.

“I’m going to get the best ideas from anybody to get this fiscal crisis behind us,” Mr. Lamont said.

The state Senate is currently split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans successfully used the tie in the Senate to influence which pieces of legislation came up for a vote, and that dynamic shut Mr. Malloy, an unpopular incumbent, out of budget discussions this year.

But Democrats picked up six seats in the Senate, giving them a lead of 24 to 12. Democrats in the House of Representatives gained 12 seats and now outnumber the GOP 92 to 59.

“The legislative results were quite substantial in terms of the gains made in both houses,” said Martin Looney, the top-ranking Democrat in the state Senate. “We take that as a mandate for the policies that we have been advocating for.”

Mr. Looney said his caucus in 2019 will push to raise the minimum wage and pass a paid family medical-leave law.

Len Fasano, the top-ranking Republican in the state Senate, didn’t return a request for comment.

Taxes emerged as a major theme during the campaign and will play a big factor in how Mr. Lamont chooses to address the budget deficit.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Lamont called Mr. Stefanowski’s proposal to eliminate the income tax unrealistic and said it would produce huge cuts for state aid to cities and towns, forcing municipalities to raise property taxes to make up for the losses.

“I am hopeful that by relentlessly focusing on that issue, we’ve started the conversation on how we can start to bring the tax burden on Connecticut families down,” Mr. Stefanowski said Wednesday in a statement.

Mr. Lamont has said he wants to keep income taxes flat and that he intends to cut property taxes and car taxes.

Making the state friendlier to businesses also remains one of his main priorities for 2019, said Mr. Lamont, a cable television entrepreneur.

“My door is going to be open,” Mr. Lamont said. “I’m going to do everything I can to be a champion for small business, big business.”

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com



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