Candidates crisscross state to collect signatures for primary ballot

HARTFORD -- The signatures are still be totaled. Some candidates have made the cut, while it appears others may fall just short.

You would have thought last month’s conventions would go a long way toward narrowing the field of gubernatorial candidates, but that’s not the case. In fact, you’ll see at least seven candidates for governor on the primary ballot in August.

A crowded field of candidates continues to crisscross Connecticut.

“We had a team on the last three days, like 50 people just blanketing the state,” said Republican candidate for Governor Bob Stefanowski.

They are making the pitch before time runs out.

“This is too important of an election,” said Stefanowski.

And they are hoping their pitch – sticks.

“To build a new Connecticut economy that works for everyone,” said Democratic candidate Joe Ganim.“People went out and got petitions in their own town without even being asked to file them.

“I’m sending every individual person a thank you note,” explained Stefanowski.

Voters told FOX61 they’re interested in real solutions — not political rhetoric.

“I think everybody is,” said Natalie Roach of Cheshire. “It’s hard to do when you are a politician and you have to listen to your constituents. You have to play the rhetoric game, but yes, common sense.”

For the Democrats, Ned Lamont is the party-backed candidate. But Bridgeport’s resurgent Mayor, Joe Ganim says he’s backed by his more than 32,000 voter signatures.

“After being certified with 32,000 signatures, the burden on our shoulders is even greater. People are relying on us now. They signed up and they said I want to be a part of something, they’re a part of it and I think they are going to be engaged to go out and vote,” said Ganim.

FOX61 asked Ganim, who spent seven years in prison for racketeering and extortion, how he plans to earn voters trust.

“The content of my character. The challenges I’ve had, the mistakes that I’ve made are lessons I’ve learned from that. And it’s the opportunity I’ve been given for a second chance.”

The Republican field is even more crowded.

FOX61 met up with Bob Stefanowski at his headquarters in Branford where they are busy plugging the information from voter signatures into a database.

Stefanowski chose to bypass the convention. He traveled to 150 cities and towns and his grassroots approach focused on voters instead of delegates.

“It absolutely paid off,” remarked Stefanowski. “I’m an outsider. To have 1,200 people at Foxwoods determine whether I am going to be on the ballot versus 450,000 registered Republicans across the state making that decision, that’s part of the reason I am where I am in the polls right now. People find it refreshing.”

Former hedge fund manager David Stemerman also qualified via petition.

“The petitions process gave my campaign an extra opportunity to meet voters from all over the state, and I can say that they're deeply concerned about the direction we're headed and the families and businesses that have fled Connecticut,” said Stemerman.

The petition process did shrink the field just a bit. Republican Mark Lauretti fell short and ended his campaign as a Republicans. He’s considering running as an independent.

Democrat Guy Smith may also come up short.