Lamont starts TV campaign with a nod to 2006

The first commercial of Ned Lamont’s gubernatorial campaign reminds voters of his antiwar challenge of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in 2006 and casts him as business savvy and “fiercely independent.”

With a 60-second spot that goes on the air Friday, Lamont joins the Republican front-runner, Tom Foley, in reaching for the attention of Connecticut’s television viewers.

“When he took on Joe Lieberman and George Bush and stood up against the war in Iraq, we took notice,” an announcer says. “Fiercely independent, Ned Lamont will work to put Connecticut back on track.”

Reminding voters of the 2006 Senate race is not without risk. His defeat of Lieberman in a Democratic primary energized progressives, who tend to decide Democratic primaries. But he ultimately failed to broaden his appeal, losing the general election to a petitioning Lieberman by 10-percentage points.

The commercial is going on the air as a new Rasmussen poll shows Foley taking single-digit leads in head-to-head matchups over both Lamont and his chief Democratic rival, Dannel P. Malloy.

Rasmussen and Quinnipiac polls reflect the benefits and baggage Lamont carries from 2006. He is the best-known of the Democratic candidates and his favorable/unfavorable rating among Democrats is 43 percent to 13 percent, according to Quinnipiac.

But the Rasmussen poll showed that among the general electorate, his unfavorables outweigh his favorables. Eighteen percent of respondents had a “very favorable” opinion of Lamont, while 22 percent had a “very unfavorable” view.

Lamont, who announced his first union endorsement this week from the United Food and Commercial Workers, also stresses his business background in the piece as a cable-television entrepreneur, a pitch that seems aimed beyond Democratic primary voters.

“I’m a business guy. I know that it’s business people who create jobs,” Lamont says in the commercial. “I’m going to make darn sure we get this state growing again.”

Lamont, who spent $17 million of his own money on his 2006 race, intends to help underwrite his gubernatorial campaign with personal funds. His first campaign finance report must be filed Monday.

His first commercial is timed to not only increase Lamont’s name recognition, but to generate buzz as Lamont, Malloy and other Democrats are trying to win commitments from delegates to the party’s nominating convention in May.

It also serves as a reminder to delegates that Lamont has the deep pockets to go on the air, while Malloy will be living within the confines of the state’s public financing system, which provides no funding until after the nominating convention.

Republican Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele, who is seeking public financing for his campaign, recently aired a commercial, but he is not believed to have purchased nearly as much air time as Foley.

Lamont’s campaign released no information on the size of the television buy.