NEW BRITAIN – Just days away from possibly being named her party’s gubernatorial nominee, Mayor Erin Stewart said she feels good about how far her campaign has come.
“We’ve had such good feedback from delegates and from people all over the state,” Stewart told The Herald on Tuesday. “To see how far we’ve come in three months is something to be extremely proud of.”
The Connecticut Republican Party’s 2018 Convention is Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12. During the two-day event at Foxwoods Resort Casino, more than 1,000 delegates will pick their candidate for governor and other statewide and national offices.
The mayor, who celebrated her 31st birthday last week, has been vying for this delegate support for the past few months. The mayor isn’t alone in her hopes of being the GOP’s nominee in November as the party has 11 other candidates in the race.
When asked why she’s the best option to be the party’s gubernatorial pick, Stewart pointed to three things.
“Energy, experience and electability – and that’s what I’ve been saying on the phone to delegates,” Stewart said. “This November is not a guarantee for the Republican Party … Republicans only make up 22 percent of the electorate, and if we don’t put forth a candidate that is electable, we are going to be hard-pressed to be successful in November.”
Stewart said many of her GOP opponents have been running campaigns very different from hers. Her GOP opponents include Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, state Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker, Stamford’s Director of Administration Mike Handler, Fairfield attorney Peter Lumaj, former hedge fund manager Dave Stemerman, businessman Steve Obsitnik, businessman Bob Stefanowski and businessman Peter Thalheim.
“It’s gotten pretty nasty, too. There’s been some mud that’s been thrown from candidate to candidate,” Stewart said of candidates fighting amongst each other. “That’s not how we roll … we just try to rise above the nastiness.”
While Stewart would ideally like to have the party’s support following the convention, that’s not the only way to the governor’s seat. Any candidate who gets 15 percent of delegate votes at the convention will have the opportunity to force a primary, which would be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
“We’re confident – we’re there. We’re at the 15 percent, that’s for sure. And we’re feeling really good about that,” Stewart said, adding that she never expected to be the party’s nominee.
Stewart said she’s already seen support from voters hoping to vote for her in the GOP primary.
“There’s been this whole ‘turn red for Erin’ campaign that started itself on Facebook and Twitter with people that want to change their party affiliation because they want to vote in the primary.”
Still, an official nomination would be a good surprise for the mayor.
“Anything is possible. Crazier things have happened. Even though we’re not planning to be the nominee, there is a pathway for that,” Stewart said.
No matter the outcome, Stewart thinks her campaign has been a positive mechanism for the Connecticut Republican Party.
“To come in the race late, to make the waves that we’ve made, to be leading in all of the polls that have been done so far – we are putting the Republican Party in a position that they wouldn’t have been in if it weren’t for the attention around my candidacy,” Stewart said. “I think the message that the Republican Party can embrace women and can embrace millennial thinking is proof in my candidacy for governor.”
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.