Oz Griebel addressing the Independent Party caucus on Sunday,
Oz Griebel addressing the Independent Party caucus on Sunday. It cross-endorsed Bob Stefanowski.

Oz Griebel, a former Republican running for governor with a former Democrat, Monte Frank, as his running mate, qualified for the ballot Tuesday, the secretary of the state’s office said. He joins Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski.

Griebel, 69, a business leader who finished third in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010, will meet Lamont on Sept. 5 in the first debate of the general-election, which will focus on the state’s economy. Stefanowski has declined to participate, but he and Lamont are expected to meet in five other debates.

The secretary of the state’s office announced Tuesday evening that the Griebel-Frank ticket has submitted more than the 7,500 signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot as petitioning candidates. Griebel had sought the endorsement of the Independent Party on Sunday, but the group instead cross-endorsed Stefanowski.

“Monte and I have emphasized from the outset that the two-party system is broken and only an independent executive can create the partnerships among the Connecticut legislature, municipalities and leaders in our education, financial services, health care, labor, manufacturing and not-for-profit service sectors that are necessary to grow the jobs we need in this state,” Griebel said. “With our access to the November ballot secured, voters have two clear choices: elect a Democrat or a Republican who will focus on partisan agendas – or elect our truly independent ticket that will put all Connecticut residents at the heart of every decision we make.”

There will be at least five names on the gubernatorial ballot: Griebel will appear once and Stefanowski and Lamont twice. The Democrat has been cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party. Rod Hanscomb of the Libertarian Party and Mark Stewart Greenstein also have petitioned for a place on the ballot.

Griebel is the former leader of the MetroHartford Alliance, the regional business association. Frank is a lawyer from Newtown.

Griebel is trying to do what no one in Connecticut has done since 1990: Win a gubernatorial election without the backing of a major party. And the last one to succeed, Lowell P. Weicker Jr., began his effort with universal name recognition as former U.S. senator.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll had Griebel as the choice of four percent of Connecticut voters.

On Monday, Stefanowski’s campaign declined an invitation to the first debate, which is sponsored by the Connecticut Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges and will be held at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, saying two days after Labor Day is too early for a debate.

The campaign said Monday he was willing to participate in four other debates. On Tuesday, his campaign agreed to a fifth. The Lamont campaign says it has accepted invitations to six debates, including the five in which Stefanowski has agreed to participate.

Those five debates will be held on Sept. 12, 17 and 26 and Oct. 18 and 30.

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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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