Nearly two months to the day since Susan Bysiewicz decided to explore a run for governor, she made it official.
Bysiewicz, the former three-term secretary of the state, announced Tuesday she has amended her campaign filing to officially run for the state’s top seat.
“We need a governor who has experience in both making difficult things happen but also someone who has the vision and the experience to help create good paying jobs in our state,” Bysiewicz said. “I believe I bring both kinds of experience to the job.”
Bysiewicz, a Middletown lawyer and Democrat, is a top contender among the nearly 30 candidates from both parties in the wide-open race.
In February, she abandoned a run for state senate — she would have challenged Meriden Republican Len Suzio in the 13th Senate District — when other top officials like state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman decided not to run for governor.
Bysiewicz has been out of office since 2010, but has run for governor, the U.S. Senate and state attorney general. She was disqualified from running for attorney general — she would have been the heir apparent to former attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who stepped forward to run for U.S. Senate — when the state Supreme Court ruled she was ineligible for the role because she did not meet the job requirements of having practiced law for 10 years. She is the only gubernatorial contender who has won statewide office.
“I think I am unique amongst the Democratic candidates and as a Democrat I am proud to be in a group of smart talented people, but I’m unique because I am the only person who has run and won statewide three times before,” Bysiewicz said. “But I am also unique because I bring both experience in state government and the experience of working in a collaborative way with the state Legislature to get things done, but also I have spent the past seven years working with more than 80 Connecticut home-grown companies and I have helped them expand and grow thousands of good paying jobs in our state.”
State GOP Chairman J.R. Romano said the Democrats, including Bysiewicz, are more concerned about keeping power than offering solutions for the state’s fiscal crisis.
“At the end of the day, voting for any Democrat whether it’s Susan Bysiewicz or Ned Lamont, it’s continuing the road to ruin that Connecticut is currently on,” Romano said. “She didn’t offer any new policy, so it’s essentially an extension of Dan Malloy.”
Bysiewicz has distanced herself from Malloy, saying it’s a benefit to not have been in office for the past eight years.
In 2012, Bysiewicz fell to then-U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, with Murphy going on to beat Linda McMahon in the general election. Bysiewicz has been practicing law since and helped raise more than $250,000 in the 2016 presidential election for Hillary Clinton.
Last month, Bysiewicz claimed a poll she commissioned indicates she alone can defeat potential Republican gubernatorial hopefuls Tim Herbst, of Trumbull and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. She likened herself to the late Gov. Ella T. Grasso, of whom she once wrote a biography, and who upon taking office in the mid-1970s, was confronted with a then-massive $500 million state budget deficit.
Bysiewicz has secured the support of high-profile Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who helped Doug Jones win an upset victory against Republican Roy Moore in a special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama. In March, Trippi apologized to the Bysiewicz campaign for accidentally publishing a draft ad to Facebook that incorrectly said she had served in the U.S. Congress.
As of January, Bysiewicz had raised about $145,000, according to her most recent Campaign Finance Report. Candidates must raise $250,000 in donations of $100 or less to qualify for the state’s public campaign financing program. If Bysiewicz wins at least 15 percent of the vote at the Democratic Party convention next month, she will earn a spot on the August primary ballot.