In Connecticut, Ned Lamont Scores a Decisive Win, and Jahana Hayes Moves Closer to History

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Ned Lamont, a wealthy businessman whose prior bid for governor fell short, won the Democratic nomination in the Connecticut primary on Tuesday, handily beating his sole opponent according to The Associated Press, and sounding buoyant about keeping the governorship in Democratic hands.

Democrats also chose Jahana Hayes in the state’s Fifth Congressional District, the A.P. reported. Ms. Hayes, a “National Teacher of the Year” in 2016, is seeking to become the state’s first black Democrat to serve in Congress.

Ms. Hayes, 46, was thought to be a long-shot in the contest against Mary Glassman, a longtime local Democratic politician in the Western Connecticut region. But she embraced her status as an underdog, melding her life story — growing up in Waterbury, Conn., she went through homelessness, a teen pregnancy and economic hardship — into her campaign.

She also won support from some of the same progressive organizations that supported insurgent progressive Democratic candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Representative Joseph Crowley in a New York primary. Ms. Hayes will face the Republican Manny Santos, a former mayor of Meriden.

[Get more results from Tuesday’s primaries here.]

Unlike Ms. Hayes, Mr. Lamont, who will face the Republican Bob Stefanowski in November, was far more of a known quantity. Voters may have looked to Mr. Lamont’s electoral history, in particular an upset victory he pulled off more than a decade ago, in tapping him for the Democratic line.

In 2006, Mr. Lamont upset the political order when he staged a shocking upset of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in the Democratic congressional primary. He then lost the general election to Mr. Lieberman, who ran as an independent. Four years later, he lost to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in the Democratic primary for governor.

But in a feisty victory speech in New Haven, Mr. Lamont focused on the future and invoked President Trump as much as his Republican opponent in November.

“You guys more than anybody know that elections matter,” he said, referring to the election of Mr. Trump. “We found that out the hard way 18 months ago.”

Then he turned to his looming general election opponent, adding, “This is a new breed of Trump Republican and we’re not going to let them take over our state. We are fighting for Connecticut values, not Trump values. This is a state that celebrates diversity and opportunity for all.”

With five Republicans seeking the nomination, Mr. Stefanowski won with only 29 percent of the vote; his closest rival, Mark D. Boughton, had 21 percent.

“We would have liked a better outcome,” Mr. Boughton said in a concession speech, “but unfortunately the cards weren’t with us tonight. I want to congratulate Bob Stefanowski on a strong win tonight.”

Mr. Boughton, the longtime mayor of Danbury, had received the party’s endorsement at the nominating convention in May.

In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by five to three, Mr. Stefanowski may be considered the underdog in November. But the Republican candidates hoped to capitalize on disenchantment with the outgoing governor, Mr. Malloy, a two-term Democrat who decided not to run for re-election. A recent survey by Morning Consult a polling firm, found that Mr. Malloy was the least popular governor in the country.

Mr. Lamont, who also had his party’s endorsement, trounced Joseph P. Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport, who claimed a spot on the ballot by collecting more than 15,000 valid signatures. With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Lamont had 83 percent of the vote and Mr. Ganim 17 percent.

[Get full results from Connecticut’s primary here.]

Mr. Ganim, who was mayor of Bridgeport in the 1990s and early 2000s, had already engineered one political comeback. In 2015, he was again elected mayor after spending several years in federal prison on corruption charges stemming from his earlier tenure at city hall. In recent months, Mr. Ganim campaigned tirelessly in a quest to grab the brass ring of statewide office, but it appeared he could not overcome his criminal baggage.

Mr. Lamont, 64, and the Republican challengers talked extensively about the state’s ailing economy during their respective campaigns. But they offered very different solutions to the multibillion-dollar deficits and corporate defections that have nagged at Connecticut.

Mr. Stefanowski, a business executive and marathon runner of Madison, wants to phase out the state’s income tax in an effort to spur growth. Before 1990, Connecticut had no income tax; he points to its introduction as the beginning of the state’s downward economic trajectory. To make up the lost revenue, they would take a scalpel to state government.

On his campaign website, Mr. Stefanowski said with a two-year budget exceeding $40 billion, “there are plenty of opportunities to identify savings and efficiencies.”

For his part, Mr. Lamont believes the solution to the economic woes lies in targeted investments, particularly in transportation and job training. On the campaign trail, he inveighed against the lack of a skilled work force, citing the frustration of employers who could not fill thousands of good-paying jobs.

This time around, Mr. Lamont is counting on the anger at Mr. Trump among Democrats to inspire a so-called blue wave in the general election.

But he also appealed to voters’ unease about jobs and the economy in his victory speech, nodding to his successful career in the telecommunications field. In 1984, he founded Lamont Digital Systems and pioneered the wiring of colleges campuses. In 2015, Mr. Lamont sold the business to a Texas company.

“How about the first governor in generations who actually started a business and created jobs?” he asked the appreciative crowd. “That’s what we are going to do — get this state going again, get this state growing again.”

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