Some governor candidates already devoting large sums to race
HARTFORD — Not only are a lot of candidates for Connecticut governor this year, but some of them are also already spending a lot of money.
Five Republicans and two Democrats have qualified to appear on the Aug. 14 primary ballot. While some are participating in the public campaign financing system, which limits how much they can spend, others are funding their own campaigns and raising private contributions.
Several wealthy businessmen have already spent or loaned their campaigns millions of dollars so far.
Newly released campaign finance documents show former Greenwich hedge fund manager and Republican candidate David Stemerman is leading the pack, loaning his campaign $12.8 million and raising nearly $100,000 so far. He has spent about $3 million.
A look at where things stand financially in the race:
GOP NEWCOMERS ARE THE BIG SPENDERS
Unknown to Connecticut’s political scene, Stemerman and a fellow Republican, Madison businessman Bob Stefanowski, have had to spend a lot of their own money to build name recognition, especially among primary voters.Stefanowski has loaned his campaign $1.4 million so far. Records show he has a balance of more than $646,000 and nearly $129,000 in unpaid expenses. He has also raised more than $450,000 in private donations.
Both men have been spending a lot of their funds so far on television advertising and various types of consultants.
The other three Republicans on the ballot are participating in the state’s Citizens Election Fund, which limits candidates to spending $1.6 million in the primary and includes a $1.35 million public grant. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the party’s endorsed candidate, and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst have qualified for and received their grants.
Westport technology consultant and engineer Steve Obsitnik is still waiting to receive his grant. Last week, he launched his first TV ad campaign, using his own money in the meantime.
DEMOCRATIC SPENDING LIMITED … SO FAR
Ned Lamont, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, has so far spent just under $1 million, mostly his own money. Records show he has $80,607 on hand as of July 1.
He is facing a primary challenge from Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who has spent more than $360,000 so far and still has about $316,000 in cash on hand. Ganim had hoped to participate in the public campaign financing program but was denied access because of his felony corruption conviction.
Ganim said he is still on track to raise $1 million for the primary. He has urged Lamont to limit his primary spending to $1 million, concerned that the wealthy Greenwich businessman might dump more money into his campaign. Lamont spent about $9 million on his 2010 failed primary for governor, when he lost to Democrat Dannel P. Malloy.
“Unlike Ned Lamont, we don’t have a multi-million trust fund,” Ganim said.
Patty McQueen, a spokeswoman for Lamont, has noted how much money the GOP candidates are spending, in addition to “unlimited outside money pouring in.” She said “there’s too much at stake” to put a limit on spending.
INDEPENDENTS TRAIL IN FUNDRAISING
At least two independent candidates for governor are raising money while still trying to secure a spot on the November ballot.
Oz Griebel, a former banker and president of a Hartford business group, has raised more than $220,000 so far. He had a balance of $12,624 as of July 1. Griebel, a Republican, is running with lifelong Democrat Monte Frank.
Griebel said the campaign has collected more than 10,000 signatures and is waiting for local and state election officials to finish reviewing them. The campaign needs 7,500 signatures by Aug. 8.
Meanwhile, unaffiliated and independent candidate Marisa Manley has begun circulating petitions to qualify for the ballot. She is the president and founder of Commercial Tenant Real Estate Representation Limited. Records show she has raised nearly $83,000 and has a balance of $31,795 in cash on hand. She recently announced Milford martial arts instructor Rick Varrone is her running mate.