HARTFORD — Ned Lamont and Susan Bysiewicz won the Democratic nominations Saturday afteroon for Governor and Lt. Governor, respectively.
Lamont easily won the state's Democratic Party's endorsement for governor Saturday, 12 years after he challenged the party's veteran U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in a race seen as a referendum on the war in Iraq.
Susan Bysiewicz won the nomination by obtaining 59.01% of the vote while Bermudez-Zimmerman took in 39.83%, and Stallworth took 1.16%.
Lamont, who ultimately lost to Lieberman in the general election and lost a bid for governor in 2010, joked how it felt unfamiliar to stand on the stage at the Democratic State Convention and except the party's official backing.
"I'm not going to let you down. I'm going to fight my heart out for each and every one of you," he said. "We're going to win this thing in November. We're going to save Connecticut."
Lamont easily defeated Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim by winning the support of 87 percent of the delegates. But he still potentially faces a primary on Aug. 14. Ganim said he plans to continue trying to collect the roughly 15,500 signatures he needs to petition his way onto the primary ballot. Retired Greenwich business executive Guy Smith also intends to collect signatures.
While Lamont won with ease, his running mate of choice, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz of Middletown faces a tough battle for the party's endorsement for lieutenant governor. She is competing with Newtown union negotiator Eva Bermudez-Zimmerman. The battle comes amid complaints from some Democrats that the party's November ticket was at risk of lacking enough racial diversity.
"Honestly, I believe people like Eva are the future of our party. We need more representation, not only diversity and with respect to race, but also youth," said Middletown delegate Laurie McFadden. "I like Ned and I like Susan, and I am an older white person, but it's like, 'Here we go, old white people again.' We need more diversity in general."
While Bysiewicz is white, Bermudez-Zimmerman is Latina.
Lamont has been working in recent weeks to coalesce support for his second run for governor. Several of his fellow Democratic contenders have dropped out of the race, throwing their support to Lamont. That list includes Bysiewicz, who last week agreed to pair up with Lamont as his running mate.
Lamont was a Democratic Party upstart in 2006, when he defeated former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic Party. Lieberman, who had come under fire for his support of the war in Iraq, wound up winning re-election that year after becoming an independent candidate. Candidates are no longer allowed to make such a move.
Like Lieberman, Lamont faces a possible primary challenge. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim hoped to secure at least the minimum 15 percent of the delegates to qualify for the primary. If that doesn't happen, he's also working to collect the roughly 15,500 signatures he needs to petition his way onto the ballot. Retired Greenwich business executive Guy Smith skipped the convention but is also attempting to collect signatures. They face a June 12 deadline.
When seconding his own nomination, Ganim pleaded with the delegates to give voters a choice in the Aug. 14 primary, and to give him — the party's lieutenant governor nominee in 1994 — a second chance as a politician. Ganim served seven years in prison for public corruption when was first mayor of Bridgeport, the state's largest city. He was elected again in 2015.
"I made my mistakes, I broke the law, I left office and came back," Ganim told the crowd. "I ask for the opportunity to serve again, with a renewed sense of transparency and accountability."
Besides lieutenant governor, floor fights were expected Saturday for attorney general and treasurer. Both seats are open this year after Attorney General George Jepsen and Treasurer Denise Nappier announced they won't be seeking re-election. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo faces no opposition, while Secretary of the State Denise Merrill was being challenged by Woodbridge Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Karen Talamelli Cusick.