The Spectrum conducted an exclusive one on one interview with Governor Ned Lamont.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is running for re-election following his first term. The race is a rematch of the 2018 gubernatorial election that pitted Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski against Democratic candidate Lamont.
Lamont believes that his first term was just the beginning, and that there is more his administration can accomplish for the people of Connecticut.
“Oh man we’re just getting started,” he said. “We were off to a good start, we got our fiscal house in order, we got our budgets balanced, we worked through Covid pretty well.”
“Tens of thousands of families moved into the state of Connecticut,” said Lamont. “Going back five years, we hadn’t added a new job in the state for 30 years. We were just flat as a pancake and sort of resting on our laurels. Today, I’ve got over 120,000 jobs that are unfilled right now.”
In August, Lamont announced that the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy was awarded $23.9 million as part of the American Rescue Plan “Good Jobs Challenge” grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grant was on top of additional federal funding the state had received earlier in the year through the American Rescue Plan, expanding upon job training programs.
“It’s a good time to be graduating because it’s not always that you’re in the driver’s seat and an employee could really look around and pick and choose and find what they want to do,” said Lamont. “My priorities for the next four years are to make sure each and every one of our young people are trained for the jobs that are out there.”
Lamont’s workforce training initiative, “CareerConneCT” focuses on individuals whose employment was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“On a personal basis it’s a great opportunity to lift people up. That nobody is left behind regardless of race, color, creed or zip code. Often looking for a job is like the Hunger Games: there’s three people looking for one job, and sort of a favorite group often gets to the front of the line,” said Lamont. “We’re in a very different place now so shame on me if I don’t make sure that everybody gets that opportunity.”
When it comes to forgiving student loan debt, Lamont said that he has a different strategy than the one President Joe Biden proposed. He hopes that his plan will incentivize students at colleges and universities in Connecticut to stay in the state after graduation by helping companies offer student loan assistance to employees.
“I want people to have the opportunity to pay down their own debt through hard work here in Connecticut,” said Lamont. “I want businesses to have an incentive to help you pay down your debt, and I’m going to egg them along. I’ll give you $5,000, if you want to pay it down $10,000 a year, go for it. If that’s one more way you get graduates to join your company, it’s a good incentive.”
Another key topic in the race for governor is the issue of abortion laws. The right to an abortion has become a major campaign issue following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Following the ruling, the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation to strengthen the existing state laws designating the state a “safe harbor.” The law protects medical providers and patients seeking an abortion in Connecticut who may travel from other states with restrictive laws. Lamont signed the bill into law.
“A law is only as good as your next governor and your next legislature,” said Lamont. “I think men and women take comfort from that I can veto anything coming out of the legislature that tries to diminish the right to choose.”
Lamont said that it is especially important for students to vote in this election because of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and other issues that could directly impact them.
“Look at the race for Senate—one person wants to outlaw the right to choose and the other person wants to make it the law of the land,” he said.
In the race to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Senate, Democratic pro-choice incumbent Richard Blumenthal is facing off against the President Trump-endorsed, anti-abortion Republican candidate Leora Levy.
“Your vote really matters, and these elections can be close. Look at what’s going on in Washington, D.C.,” said Lamont. “One senator in one direction will determine the direction of the U.S. Senate for the next two years. In the house there’s a real risk if it flips, from my point of view, from Democrat to Republican. That would be a sea change and very little would get done, but maybe that’s what some people want.”
“Elections are boring when it is different shades of grey and everybody’s moving to the center, you don’t quite know what they really believe in,” said Lamont. “In my race, in the senate race and the congressional race, there is a real difference, and I think that people can pay attention to that.”
A recent Quinnipiac poll shows Lamont ahead against opponent Stefanowski 56-41. This is a stark contrast from the last time Lamont and Stefanowski went head-to-head when Lamont won by three points in 2018.
Lamont is no stranger to Connecticut politics, defeated by incumbent Senator Joe Liberman in a 2006 campaign for U.S. Senate during the Iraq war. Liberman, a pro-war independent candidate against Lamont, the anti-war Democratic nominee.
In 2010, Lamont sought after the Democratic nomination for governor, losing to Dannel P. Malloy, then Mayor of Stamford.
Following an announcement that Malloy would not seek a third term, Lamont launched his second bid for governor. Winning the Democratic nomination, he defeated Republican challenger Stefanowski in the November 2018 election.
“The state was going through a world of hurt, going back five or six years, we were just lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis,” said Lamont. “A lot of people were leaving,
GE (General Electric) had left and there was a certain negativity about the state.”
Lamont’s personal history in Connecticut stretches back several years as well.
“I went to school here, I met my wife here, I got one of the greatest education systems in the world here. My kids were able to have that opportunity,” he said.
Lamont is married to venture capitalist Annie Lamont, and together they are parents to three adult children. A Yale School of Management graduate, Lamont founded Campus Televideo, a telecommunications company that specializes in cable systems for colleges and universities.
“Annie and I were both able to start up our businesses here and I just believe in the state, and I thought we should be doing a lot better,” said Lamont.
Looking forward to the possibility of re-election, Lamont is hopeful for the state’s future and for the support of his constituents.
While campaigning, Lamont touts four balanced budgets, tax cuts for the middle class and new business startups as the first-term accomplishments he is most proud of.
“I think that’s all evidence that people believe, and the polls seem to suggest they believe, that Connecticut’s got a long way to go,” he said. “But we’ve made a lot of progress over the last four years, and we’re just getting started.”
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Connecticut residents can register to vote in person on election day at their town’s election day registration location. Polling places will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Due to the cancelation of Lamont’s visit to Sacred Heart University on Oct. 24, the one-on-one interview with the governor was conducted on Zoom. Spectrum has reached out to the campaign of Bob Stefanowski for his comments on the issues.