The Repub­li­cans for gov­er­nor: 2 we know, 3 we don’t

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - HAVE YOUR SAY - Chris Pow­ell is a colum­nist for the Jour­nal Inquirer in Manch­ester.

All five can­di­dates in this week’s pri­mary for the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for gov­er­nor are against rais­ing taxes and for econ­o­miz­ing with the mas­ter state em­ployee union con­tract and pen­sion ben­e­fits. While this may not seem like much, state gov­ern­ment’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion is so des­per­ate that any gov­er­nor who re­fuses a tax in­crease may be forced into rad­i­cal mea­sures just to keep the lights on.

So what are the strengths and weak­nesses of the Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates?

Mark Boughton: While his idea of elim­i­nat­ing the state in­come tax in 10 years might as well add a zero or two to that time frame, this is just an oblig­a­tory as­pi­ra­tion for Repub­li­cans and Boughton is ac­tu­ally the most sober of their can­di­dates, maybe too sober to win the pri­mary de­spite the en­dorse­ment of the party’s state con­ven­tion.

Boughton’s po­lit­i­cal so­bri­ety comes from many years of be­ing mayor of a city, Dan­bury, with mixed de­mo­graph­ics and Demo­cratic lean­ings. He has given Con­necti­cut a rar­ity: a pros­per­ous city and one with a vet­eran Re­pub­li­can mayor.

As a for­mer state leg­is­la­tor and teacher, Boughton has far more rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence than the other can­di­dates, if un­der­stand­ing of the job one seeks is still to be con­sid­ered a virtue.

Tim Herbst: His sharp edges seem to have be­gun alien­at­ing his home town, Trum­bull, caus­ing him to de­cline to seek an­other term as first se­lect­man in the last mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion so he could seek the gov­er­nor­ship this year with­out the stain of a de­feat.

Herbst has set him­self apart by pos­tur­ing for the hard right of the party, ex­alt­ing gun rights and de­mand­ing re­spect for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as if the pres­i­dent him­self doesn’t en­joy dis­re­spect­ing ev­ery­one else.

Herbst says he is a fighter, and, in­deed, his mean streak has been on dis­play in the cam­paign, as when he openly wished to ex­tin­guish his cigar in a ri­val’s eye.

Steve Ob­sit­nik: He is a tech­nol­ogy devel­oper who got enough votes at the con­ven­tion to qual­ify for the pri­mary but whose mes­sage is mainly a hal­lu­ci­na­tion about solv­ing most of Con­necti­cut’s prob­lems by cre­at­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs. Ob­sit­nik has no record in pub­lic life and is prob­a­bly fin­ish­ing him­self off with his own daffy tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials.

Bob Ste­fanowski: Ar­ro­gance de­fines this rich for­mer cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive, and not just the ar­ro­gance of think­ing that his abil­ity to fi­nance his own cam­paign en­ti­tles him to start at the top in pol­i­tics but also his think­ing that call­ing him­self “con­ser­va­tive” in his ad­ver­tis­ing makes him so when he has no record in pub­lic life and hasn’t even voted for 16 years. Ste­fanowski briefly reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat a year ago, ap­par­ently so that he might seek that party’s nom­i­na­tion, and then by­passed the Re­pub­li­can con­ven­tion so he could avoid the vet­ting of the reg­u­lar nom­i­na­tion process.

In a re­cent de­bate Ste­fanowski flashed a some­what sin­is­ter grin as he de­clared that he would use his ex­pe­ri­ence as a busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive to “rip costs out” of the state bud­get — as if democ­racy doesn’t re­quire per­sua­sion and con­sen­sus. His at­ti­tude seems to be “my way or the high­way,” the at­ti­tude that made Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy so un­pop­u­lar.

David Ste­mer­man: He is an­other rich self-fun­der pre­sum­ing to start at the top. At least Ste­mer­man has stud­ied state gov­ern­ment and given the most forth­right anal­y­sis of the state em­ployee pen­sion prob­lem. But since he also by­passed the con­ven­tion to avoid vet­ting and has no record in pub­lic life, no one re­ally knows him ei­ther.

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