Everything’s ‘not fine’ – Hartford Courant
HARTFORD — A new poll Wednesday showed Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont leading Republican Bob Stefanowski by 13 percentage points as the two candidates pick up the pace of their television advertising campaigns.
The survey by News 8/The Hill/Emerson College Polling says that if the election were held today, Lamont would have 50.5% and Stefanowski would have 38%. Another 11.5% of registered voters in the survey remained undecided with the election more than five months away.
“Lamont carries the majority of urban and city voters with 58% and suburban voters with 51%, while Stefanowski has a 46% plurality support among rural voters,’’ said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters also showed that 55% currently approve of Lamont’s job performance in office, while 32% disapprove. Another 13% said they were neutral.
The poll done May 10 and 11 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. A previous poll that was released last month by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield showed Lamont ahead by 18 percentage points.
Lamont’s spokesman, Jake Lewis, responded by saying Lamont is concentrating on his job.
“Polls go up, polls go down,’’ Lewis said Wednesday. “We’re just focused on the state.’’
Liz Kurantowicz, Stefanowski’s strategist and spokeswoman, said, “We know that polls over the next five months are going to go up and down, but what Bob hears every day from people across the state is their frustration with how out of touch Ned Lamont is with the struggle people face every day, and while Ned Lamont is patting himself on the back for a job well done, people are struggling, and he could have done more to help, but he didn’t.’’
In a rare news conference with the Capitol press corps, Stefanowski criticized Lamont on a wide variety of issues from taxes to spending to parental notification on abortion.
He said that Lamont’s wife, Annie, should release her tax returns because her venture capital company has invested in two companies with ties to the state government that her husband oversees.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody married filing separately,’’ Stefanowski told reporters. “You know why he did that? Because he doesn’t want to disclose his wife’s finances. … The people of Connecticut deserve to see what her income looks like.’’
But Lewis responded that there are no plans for Annie Lamont to release her tax returns.
Stefanowski said that the state is being hurt economically by the state highway tax on large trucks, but the tax does not begin until January 1, 2023.
“Gov. Lamont’s truck tax, which is passed on to trucks, which they then pass onto the price of goods for Connecticut residents, is costing $500 a year,’’ Stefanowski told reporters. “It costs $100 to fill your gas tank and $1,000 to fill your oil tank.’’
Concerning abortion, Stefanowski said, “I believe in parental notification. I think we should have it. I would question why the governor doesn’t think that the parents of a 14-year-old girl don’t have the right to have a discussion with her. … My position on this is mainstream.’’
But state Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Reproductive Rights Caucus who appeared at the Capitol after the news conference, said, “Notification is a slippery slope to consent. … We have strong policies in place. We have counseling in place for children who feel as though they cannot speak to a parent about accessing abortion. That policy has been in place for years. We stand by it. … He’s playing into the anti-choice playbook.’’
In his latest television commercial that was released this week, Stefanowski ripped into Lamont.
“People are tired of this rhetoric coming out of the state government – that everything’s fine,’’ Stefanowski says during the 30-second ad. “Well, you know what? It’s not fine.’’
A narrator then says, “Skyrocketing utility bills, rising crime, corruption that steals your tax dollars. That’s the Lamont record.’’
Stefanowski concludes the ad by saying, “I will make Connecticut work for everyone, not just the political insiders, but everyone.’’
Lamont’s campaign fired back quickly against Stefanowski, saying that some of the ad is false.
“Still lacking a strategy, plan or meaningful vision to move Connecticut forward, Bob stooped to a new low early in this election by resorting to the tactics he knows best: desperation and distraction,” said Lewis. “While Bob peddles fiction about the current state of Connecticut, the facts are Governor Lamont worked tirelessly to pass a historic budget that included the largest tax cut in Connecticut history, while making significant investments in education, crime prevention and job training.”
The commercials are expected to continue in an expensive race between two multi-millionaire former business executives. Stefanowski has pledged to spend $10 million of his own money, while Lamont has already spent more than $40 million of his own money on three statewide runs for office in 2006, 2010, and 2018.
At the same time, Stefanowski is still raising money from contributors. He will hold a fundraiser on June 14 in Canton with Republican Governors Association chairman Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, who recently said on CNN that he approves banning abortion, including in cases of rape and incest. Stefanowski will also be holding a major event on June 22 in Branford with New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu that has a maximum ticket price of $3,500 each.
“Nebraska is a pro-life state,’’ Ricketts said, adding that he would work with the legislature to call a special session if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision that many expect after a draft ruling was leaked recently.
Stefanowski has continued blasting Lamont on bread-and-butter economic issues that are facing working families. On Monday, Stefanowski tweeted, “Connecticut just recorded its highest average price for gas ever at $4.54 per gallon, surpassing the national average gas price.’’
Christopher Keating can be reached at email@example.com