NEW BRITAIN - Standing in Founders Hall at her alma mater, Central Connecticut State University, on Monday, Mayor Erin Stewart formally announced her candidacy for governor.
“Go, Erin, go,” supporters chanted after she declared that she’s in the race, adding her name to those of more than a dozen other Republicans.
After her announcement, Stewart talked about the importance of a new generation of leadership in Hartford and called the 2018 election a “tipping point” for the state. As a 30-year-old Republican woman in public office, she touted herself as a standout candidate.
“If you’re looking for a candidate that’s going to fit in a certain ideology, I’m probably not the candidate you’re looking for,” Stewart said. “On many issues, especially budgets and finances, I’m very much a conservative. On other issues, my positions are more moderate or liberal, and I stand by them. It’s what I truly believe and I’m not going to change them just to win a campaign.”
While briefly discussing some of her platform points, Stewart referred to CCSU and the state’s other institutions of higher education as “ground zero” for Connecticut’s future.
“We have to make sure that we’re keeping our young people here and providing opportunities for them,” Stewart said. “Creating jobs from under our economy and creating a talent pipeline from our state universities to new and exciting ventures is what will fuel our new economy and keep our millennials here.”
Stewart acknowledged she is facing a lot of competition. More than 20 candidates have formally declared their candidacy, with more than a dozen of them Republicans.
“There have been many people that have been in this race for a lot longer than I. I understand that I’m a little late to the party,” Stewart said. “But Connecticut needs more than slogans right now. We need more than candidates who say they have the medicine for our troubles if only we’d elect them. Connecticut needs a fresh voice and a new vision for our state’s future, one that brings us together rather than divides us.”
Stewart said she intends to qualify for the state’s public financing election system, the Citizens Elections Fund. To qualify, Stewart needs to raise $250,000 in contributions of $100 or less from Connecticut residents.
Stewart declined to give a firm number, but said she’s been raising money at a steady pace and is confident she can hit the $250,000 threshold. She said her fundraising totals will be updated April 1, the quarterly filing deadline and three days before the Connecticut Republican Party’s next debate.
To participate in the party’s fifth debate, set for Wednesday, April 4, candidates must have formally declared and must have a significant campaign war chest.
“To say that I would have $175,000 in the bank by April 4 is a little unreasonable,” Stewart told reporters following her announcement.
The debate will be held at New Britain High School, and Stewart said she “absolutely” thinks she should be included even if she hasn’t hit the $175,000 mark yet.
“And if not, we’ll be standing outside with 200 of my closest friends to rally for support onstage,” Stewart said.
The Connecticut GOP convention, at which 1,000 delegates will vote to endorse a candidate, begins Saturday, May 12. Any candidate who earns 15 percent of those votes will have the opportunity to force a primary, which would be on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
The filing deadline for candidates is June 12.
The election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at email@example.com.