Dan Malloy won the Democratic endorsement for governor today by more than a 2-1 margin, with Ned Lamont easily qualifying for an Aug. 10 primary, guaranteeing a long, eventful summer of Connecticut politics.

Malloy’s choice for lieutenant governor, Nancy Wyman, also was endorsed. Lamont’s pick, Mary Glassman, drew enough votes to primary.

For Malloy, it was the second time winning his party’s gubernatorial endorsement. He won by a single vote in 2006.

The difference is that for the first time since 1994, the winner of the Democratic primary this year will not face an incumbent Republican governor, giving the party hope of winning a gubernatorial election for the first time since 1986.

Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, immediately drew a sharp distinction between his publicly financed campaign and the privately funded campaign of Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who used $17 million of his own money opposing Joseph I. Lieberman for U.S. Senate in 2006.

malloy-wyman 5-22-10

Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman celebrate their endorsements for governor and lieutenant governor at the Democratic convention (Robert A. Frahm)

In two weeks, Malloy expects to receive a grant of $1.25 million for the primary, an amount that could eventually double based on Lamont’s spending.

“I was proud to advocate for that program four years ago,” Malloy said. “And I am proud to be here, running as a clean election candidate.”

He won the endorsement 1,232 to 582.

“Dan and I both qualified for the big game,” Lamont said.

He offered no apologies for opting out of the voluntary Citizens’ Election Program and privately financing his campaign.

“We’re not going to fight the Republicans with one hand tied behind our backs,” he said addressing a scrum of reporters even as Malloy still was on the stage, waving to the crowd.

The rest of the endorsed candidates: Denise Nappier for treasurer, George C. Jepsen for attorney general, Denise Merrill for secretary of the state and Kevin Lembo for comptroller.

Nappier and Jepsen are the only Democrats who were unopposed at the convention.

Earlier, Lamont made clear he would be happy to leave with a spot on the primary ballot.

“Our campaign is all about the primary,” Lamont said earlier. But he strongly contested for delegates.

“They’re trying to win it. We’re trying to win,” Malloy said before the balloting began.

Malloy and Lamont crisscrossed the crowded convention floor during the balloting, responding to reports by field staff of wavering or uncommitted delegates. One worker laughed and said, “The hot rumor is Sherman’s two delegates are uncommitted.”

It also is Lamont’s second convention: In 2006, he was the anti-war candidate who garnered 33 percent of the vote to easily qualify for a primary against Lieberman, who lost the primary to Lamont and then won as a petitioning candidate in November.

Lamont drew 33 percent again today, more than double the 15-percent minimum necessary for a primary. His running mate, Glassman, had a similar tally.

Lamont shouts to delegate

Ned Lamonts shouts on convention floor. (Mark Pazniokas)

Bridgeport began the balloting, casting all 74 votes for Lamont, whose convention operation was led by top aides of two Lamont allies: Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn.

Leslie O’Brien, a Williams’ aide, guided Lamont across the floor with the former state treasurer, Francisco P. Borges.

Borges gently chastised Lamont for stopping to talk to a reporter. This was a time for delegates, not the press.

Lamont’s wife, Annie, said she and her family were relaxed, unlike 2006 when they were new to conventions and unsure if Lamont would qualify for a primary.

Rep. John Geragosian of New Britain, a Lamont delegate, carefully kept a running count. He said he would keep count until Lamont hit his 15-percent threshold for a primary.

“That’s all I care about,” he said. “I was a Moffett delegate in ’86.”

That was the year that Gov. William A. O’Neill was able to block former Congressman Toby Moffett from a primary. Back then, the qualifying threshold was 20 percent of the convention vote.

Malloy said some delegates still were persuadable.

“I just did. I got one,” Malloy said. “There’s always opportunity to change minds.”

Four years ago, Malloy took the nomination away from New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. on vote switching. DeStefano, who is at the convention working for Lamont, won the primary.

This year, Nappier is the only constitutional officer seeking re-election, which generated intense competition for endorsements on the underticket. Jepsen escaped a primary only because Susan Bysiewicz ended her campaign Tuesday after the Supreme Court ruled she lacked the minimum experience to be attorney general.

Merrill, the House majority leader from Mansfield, faces a three-way primary for secretary of the state with Sen. Jonathan Harris of West Hartford and Gerry Garcia of New Haven. Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura and Rep. Thomas Reynolds of Ledyard qualified for a primary against Lembo, but they are not yet publicly committed to a primary.

Lembo, the state health care advocate and a former top policy aide to Wyman in the comptroller’s office, will be the first openly gay candidate on a statewide ballot in Connecticut.

Democratic candidates 5-22-10

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