Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski landed an endorsement Monday from Peter Lumaj, a former rival who had built his campaign around an identity as a deeply conservative supporter of Second Amendment rights and a candidate unapologetically loyal to President Trump.
Endorsements often are of limited value, but Stefanowski’s campaign was quick to celebrate the embrace of a politician closely identified with conservatives and supporters of the president, an important part of the GOP base that goes to the polls on Aug. 14 to select a gubernatorial nominee from an expected field of five or even six candidates
“Bob Stefanowski is a conservative outsider who will be the change agent Hartford desperately needs. Republicans can count on him to be a steadfast defender of our Second Amendment rights, cut taxes, and dramatically shrink the size of government,” Lumaj said in a statement released by the Stefanowski campaign.
Stefanowski sought the endorsement, said Patrick Trueman, his campaign manager.
In a crowded field, any entree to conservatives potentially could be helpful. Lumaj narrowly failed to qualify for the primary at the GOP convention, seemingly yielding the political right to Timothy Herbst, the former Trumbull first selectman. But Stefanowski’s courtship of Lumaj is a sign he believes he can win a share of Trump voters.
“Bob shares an economic adviser, or a couple, with Donald Trump,” Trueman said.
Art Laffer, a paid consultant to Stefanowski, co-authored the campaign’s supply-side economic plan released in December. It is an updated version of what Laffer also recommended to Ronald Reagan — promote economic growth by slashing taxes. Laffer had advised the Trump campaign. Larry Kudlow read and approved the Stefanowski plan shortly before he joined the Trump administration, Trueman said.
Stefanowski, a former high-ranking business executive from Madison, is one of Republicans who bypassed the GOP convention in favor of qualifying for the primary by petitioning. The other is David Stemerman of Greenwich, a former hedge fund manager. The deadline for submitting signatures is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Neither was initially invited to a debate Monday night in New Haven sponsored by the Connecticut Realtors, with participation limited to the trio who qualified for the primary at the convention: Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, tech entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik of Westport and Herbst. But invitations later were extended to the petitioning candidates; Stemerman accepted, but Stefanowski did not.
It will be televised at 7 p.m. by WCTX, the sister station of WTNH.
Lumaj ended his campaign after winning 14.7 percent of the delegate vote at the convention, just shy of the 15 percent necessary to primary. Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who failed to win the necessary 15 percent, is trying to petition.
“I am grateful for the support and confidence of Peter Lumaj,” Stefanowski said. “Peter’s efforts have reminded the state of our constitutional rights. With his support, we will bring transformative change to Hartford, creating jobs, growing our economy, and protecting our constitutional rights.”
Stefanowski was the chief financial officer of UBS Investment Bank and held senior jobs at General Electric.