Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire.
Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire.

Mayor Dan Drew of Middletown, a Democratic candidate for governor, is going to take the unusually early step Wednesday of naming a first-year state representative, Liz Linehan of Cheshire, as his choice for a running mate in 2018.

The announcement in Cheshire will be the latest in a series of unconventional moves by Drew to make an early impression as a serious, aggressive candidate among the activists who will serve as delegates to the Democratic nominating convention next spring.

Drew opened an exploratory campaign for governor in January, three months before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he would not seek a third term. In July, Drew became the first Democrat to declare his candidacy.

His intention to name Linehan as a running mate, which was confirmed to CT Mirror by several Democratic sources, pairs him with an energetic and ambitious campaigner, with whom he shares political consultants.

Linehan, who served on the Cheshire Town Council before winning a legislative seat last year in her second try, has little profile outside her district and does nothing to expand Drew’s political base in central Connecticut.

But the teaming gives him a partner on two fronts: the retail politics of personally reaching out to potential delegates, and raising the $250,000 in small-dollar donations necessary to qualify for public financing. As a team, they can pool their fundraising, if needed.

Drew raised more than $177,000 in his nearly six months as an exploratory candidate, but he spent the money nearly as fast as he raised it.

His introduction of Linehan as his running mate will come at Consolidated Industries in Cheshire.

The last time a candidate for governor made an early choice for lieutenant governor, the partnership ended badly. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican candidate for governor, struck an alliance with Heather Somers in January 2014.

Somers, a former mayor of Groton, gave Boughton a fund-raising partner with connections in eastern Connecticut, away from Boughton’s base on the New York border. But she eventually broke with Boughton and ended up as the nominee for lieutenant governor on a ticket led by Tom Foley.

Dan Drew speaking at a rally he organized to condemn President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. Liz Linehan stood behind him.
Dan Drew speaking at a rally he organized to condemn President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. Liz Linehan stood behind him.

Malloy did not name Nancy Wyman, then the state comptroller, as his running mate until April of 2010, giving him a well-timed boost among delegates.

A gubernatorial candidate’s ability to name a running mate is limited. Even if they are running as a team, candidates for lieutenant governor are elected separately in state conventions and primaries.

The races for the Democratic and Republican nominations to succeed Malloy, a Democrat enmeshed in a budget fight with the General Assembly, are wide open.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo, the only statewide official pursuing a run for governor, surprised fellow Democrats last week by ending an exploratory campaign and declaring he would seek re-election to a third term as comptroller.

The other Democrats with exploratory campaigns are: Jonathan Harris, a former state senator, consumer-protection commissioner and state party official; Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, who returned to office in 2015 after serving prison time on a corruption conviction; and Chris Mattei, a former federal prosecutor seeking office for the first time.

Republicans have four declared candidates who have raised significant funds: Rep. Prasad Srinivasan of Glastonbury, who says he already has raised the $250,000 necessary to qualify for public financing; Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti; Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst; and and David Walker, the former U.S comptroller general.

Boughton, Peter Lumaj and Steve Obsitnik are among Republicans with exploratory committees.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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