Lamont and Stefanowski use TV ad campaigns to carve out their images for CT governor’s race

Governor Ned Lamont, who has said he is postponing politics to focus on government, entered the campaign trail Tuesday with his first television ad.

The ad, which is being broadcast statewide, highlights the Democratic first-term track record as a political outsider — a former Greenwich telecommunications contractor who spent his time in office improving Connecticut’s fiscal outlook. .

“For years politicians couldn’t do it – balance the budget, without raising taxes,” Lamont says at the start of the ad, first appearing on a sidewalk in a residential neighborhood and then addressing to a series of business owners. “As a businessman, I knew we could prove them wrong.”

Bob Stefanowski, the presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate, has been running ads since late January, sending the message that Connecticut is not an affordable place to live. In a commercial, Stefanowski sits in a room surrounded by supporters who nod in agreement when he says he plans to “make it a little more affordable to drive your car to work, return it a little more affordable to buy groceries.”

As the Connecticut gubernatorial race begins to take shape, Lamont and Stefanowski are using their early television campaigns to set their priorities and define themselves when addressing voters ahead of the November election.

For Lamont, that means focusing on how his strong management and fiscal discipline enabled him to turn the state’s huge budget deficit into a $3 billion surplus while investing in schools, health care public health and safety. The ad touts the governor’s successful efforts to institute a gas tax exemption through the end of June and outlines his plans for further relief, including lower car taxes for most residents.

For Stefanowksi, who lost to Lamont by 44,000 votes, or 3 percentage points, in 2018, the television campaign allows him to reintroduce himself to voters, highlighting his journey as a self-made man who grew up in middle class and worked their way up. enterprise scale.

In one of the advertisements, Stefanowski, seated at the counter of a restaurant, declares to his entourage: “I grew up in New Haven. My parents worked hard. I know what it’s like to start with nothing.

His comments are a dig at Lamont, the great-grandson of Thomas Lamont, who was chairman of JP Morgan. But Stefanowski is a wealthy executive who wrote himself a check for $10 million to kick off his campaign.

The governor has begun his re-election campaign, investing $210,000 of his own money and spending about half that amount, according to his latest January campaign filing. Lamont spent around $15 million of his own money in the 2018 race and is believed to have access to resources well beyond that.

Lamont and Stefanowski are self-funding their campaigns, potentially setting up a spending race that could play out on the airwaves and elsewhere. Stefanowski’s initial television purchase was for $1 million. Lamont has spent at least $60,000 on his ad campaign so far. A fuller picture of the two candidates’ spending will emerge once they file their next quarterly reports, which are due April 10.

In the initial television commercials, none of the contestants are in attack mode. Instead, they are shown in conversation with touring supporters and companies. Stefanowski began running ads on Facebook several weeks ago, accusing the Lamont administration of being corrupt.

In one of his earliest TV spots, Stefanowski speaks with a barber as he sits in his chair getting his hair cut, and stands with a group of men at a manufacturing plant where he says that his first task would be to reduce the state sales tax.

Lamont speaks with a man who fills up at the gas pump, then walks through a neighborhood with a smiling and laughing family.

Like Lamont, Stefanowski presented himself as a political outsider — a business executive who focused on cutting corporate spending. In 2018, Stefanowski was singularly focused on eliminating state income tax, but his ads point to a broader agenda, including reducing sales tax and eliminating government waste.

He pointed to overall government debt and liabilities at or near the highest in the country, lagging Connecticut’s job growth, and said the strong fiscal position of the state was largely due to one-time federal pandemic assistance — issues that will likely shape future announcements.

Lamont, who has the advantage of being an incumbent who has been pushed even further into the public eye with near-daily televised press conferences for much of the pandemic, is expected to continue highlighting the response of the COVID-19 under his leadership and record of balancing budgets while continuing to invest in education, health care and other priorities.

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