HARTFORD – Just steps away the office she hopes is hers come November, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart announced Tuesday that Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei is her running mate in the 2018 gubernatorial race.
“I have found a running mate, a true partner in this race for governor,” Stewart said when introducing her lieutenant governor pick.
First elected as Greenwich’s top official in 2007, Tesei is currently serving his sixth term as Greenwich’s First Selectman. The first selectman of Greenwich is chief executive officer of the municipality, and Tesei has also served on Greenwich’s Board of Estimate and Taxation for 10 years.
“This is going to be a team moving forward, a team moving forward to the primary and through that general election.” Stewart said. “Peter and I are on the same page.”
Tesei said he aligns with many of Stewart’s viewpoints. He said he considers himself “very moderate” on social issues.
“Mayor Stewart has articulated a vision for the future of our state. She brings to this race a tremendous amount of talent,” Tesei said.
Both Stewart and her new running mate acknowledged that Tesei’s experience in the “Gold Coast,” the wealthy region of southwest Connecticut, may help swing delegates and voters in that area. They said the diversity in their respective municipalities – and gender-balanced ticket – will help get the support of Connecticut’s voting base.
Tesei had previously supported Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik in the gubernatorial race, but suggested Monday that Stewart was more electable. Tesei said he called Obsitnik to tell him he was teaming with Stewart.
“Ultimately it’s a mathematical equation in how you can put forth the best team that’s experienced and has all those attributes … and can win,” Tesei said, adding that Stewart’s election wins in New Britain prove she can win over Democrats and independents.
Stewart said she has been contacted by staff of four candidates inquiring about being their candidates’ potential running mate. When asked if she thought it “was a bit sexist” to ask her, a three-time elected mayor of a large city, to be a running mate, Stewart replied “yes.” Stewart is the only woman in the GOP’s slate of candidates.
Stewart announced in January that she had formed an exploratory committee for the race and she officially entered the race March 19. Stewart is aiming to qualify for the state’s Citizens’ Election Program, which gives candidates funding if they raise $250,000 in increments of $100 or less. The contributions must be primarily from Connecticut residents. On Monday, Stewart said her campaign was “halfway there.”
“We are raising money at a faster clip than any of our opponents, and that’s a fact,” Stewart said.
The Republican convention, at which 1,300 delegates will vote to endorse a candidate, is Friday, May 11, and Saturday, May 12. Any candidate who gets 15 percent of those votes will have the opportunity to force a primary, which would be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
“It’d be great to receive it (the party’s nomination), but 15 percent is all you need,” Stewart told reporters.
The filing deadline for candidates is June 12.
The election is Nov. 6.
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