Lamont garners 87 percent of delegates’ votes for governor
HARTFORD — Ned Lamont easily won the Democratic gubernatorial endorsement on Saturday, while Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim fell short of the 15 percent he needed to automatically appear on the party’s August primary ballot.
Amid a controversy among urban delegates over the desire to diversify the statewide ticket, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, a union organizer from Newtown who announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor earlier in the week, won enough support to force a primary with Lamont’s chosen running mate, Susan Bysiewicz, of Middletown.
Ganim promised to continue his petitioning campaign, which he said has collected 11,000 signatures toward the 15,500 he needs to reach the primary.
Lamont, a 64-year-old Greenwich businessman, collected 1,637 votes —
87 percent — to Ganim’s 244 votes, 12.97 percent of the 1,881 delegates voting.
“I am just so proud of the 2,000 people in this room and the Connecticut Democrats who care so much about this state,” Lamont said. “I celebrate the diversity. This is America. This is the best of Connecticut. I am so proud to be here, and if Donald Trump doesn’t understand that, that’s his problem. “We have a battle on our hands,” Lamont said. “These are Trump Republicans. We’re going to fight to keep this place Connecticut blue, and we’re going to win.”
Lamont promised to engage Republicans on the major issues facing the state, from the budget crisis, to jobs and the rights of organized labor.
Ganim seeks signatures
Ganim, who made a plea for support from the nominating platform an hour before the voting, will continue his petition campaign, aimed at gathering the signatures of 2 percent of statewide Democratic enrollment.
“Certainly we would have liked 15 percent,” Ganim told reporters after the final
vote total was announced. “So we’re OK with that. We’ve got headquarters and operations set up in Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, West Haven.”
As the brief period for delegates to possibly switch votes ended, and it became clear that Ganim did not have the support to force a primary, the mayor assumed his trademark posture, atop a chair at the front of his delegation’s section near the platform. Shaking his fists, he thanked his supporters and assured them he was not giving up. “We’re gonna fight!” he shouted. “We’re gonna get signatures!”
As soon as the final vote was announced, another battle shaped up over the lieutenant governor spot, as two challengers, Zimmerman and state Rep. Charlie Stallworth, of Bridgeport, challenged Bysiewicz, a former state lawmaker and 12-year secretary of the state who dropped her bid for governor to join Lamont. Stallworth fell far short, with 22 votes, 1.16 percent.
Zimmerman to primary
Zimmerman was buoyed by 89 votes from Bridgeport’s 93 delegates, 86 from New Haven and 32 from Norwalk. She received 758 votes, 39.83 percent.
Bysiewicz won the endorsement with 1,123 votes, 59 percent of the 1903 voting Democrats. Bysiewicz reminded delegates of the period in which she was a Democratic secretary of the state with a Republican governor, John G. Rowland, who pleaded guilty to federal public corruption, and is currently finishing his second prison stint.
“I remember what is was like to see reckless spending and radical agendas,” Bysiewicz said. “I remember what it was like to have corruption, cronyism and conservatism that are totally opposite of the values that our party stands for.”
Nominations for governor began at about 11:40 a.m., after Democratic State Chairman Nick Balletto introduced a new, computerized balloting program that eschewed the timehonored, often-tedious tradition of individual towns and cities announcing their support in roll-call votes.
“I ask for a second-chance opportunity,” Ganim, a convicted felon for public corruption, said from the stage — making a rare convention appearance of a candidate seconding his nomination — as he searched for the 15 percent support that would assure his name on the Aug. 14 primary ballot.
Democrat Ned Lamont speaks after receiving his party’s endorsement for governor at the 2018 Connecticut Democratic State Convention Saturday in Hartford.