Gov. Ned Lamont mark pazniokas /
Ned Lamont, left, and Jonathan Harris at a campaign forum in April 2018. mark Pazniokas /

Updated Wednesday.

Gov. Ned Lamont, a political outsider who has struggled to hone a consistent message and legislative agenda, is significantly reorganizing his staff by naming former state Sen. Jonathan Harris as senior adviser and hiring television reporter Max Reiss as communications director, sources said Tuesday night.

The governor’s staff is to be briefed Wednesday morning, with a public announcement to follow.

Colleen Flanagan Johnson, who joined the administration with the intention of remaining no more than a year, is leaving as senior adviser, returning to Cigna. Maribel La Luz, the communications director, is departing the governor’s office to become senior adviser for external affairs at the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Harris, who ended his own campaign for governor to endorse Lamont, joined the administration on its first day as the undersecretary of comprehensive planning and intergovernmental policy at the Office of Policy and Management, surprising insiders who thought his experience and connections would be better used in the Capitol.

In April, with the administration struggling to move a legislative agenda focused on tolls, Harris did become more visible at the State Capitol, advising the legislative team. His new portfolio as adviser will include oversight of the administration’s legislative and policy operation.

Max Reiss, who hosted “Face the Facts.” NBC Connecticut
Max Reiss, who hosted “Face the Facts.” NBC Connecticut

Reiss joined NBC Connecticut as its political reporter in 2014, covering the re-election campaign of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. He will begin his new job on July 22, the day when the legislature is expected to return to adopt a bond package and consider overriding vetoes, if any occur.

Ryan Drajewicz remains as chief of staff, Bob Clark as general counsel and Paul Mounds as chief operating officer. Mounds will take on the additional title of deputy chief of staff.

“These personnel adjustments will allow us to leverage the experience and expertise of these individuals in a way that best supports my administration’s goals going forward,”  Lamont said. “Following my first legislative session, I conducted a holistic review to evaluate my office structure and needs relative to my goals. Both Jonathan and Paul’s expertise and historical knowledge of state government are natural fits in these new roles.”

Lamont was experienced as a statewide candidate, running for U.S. Senate in 2006 and governor in 2010. But unlike his predecessor, he took office without a coterie of close aides. Marc Bradley, who was his campaign manager, was the only confidant to join the administration, running the office of intergovernmental relations. Rob Blanchard, a press aide during the campaign, also joined the administration in January and will be the deputy communications director.

The governor failed to convince Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, to call his tolls bill for a vote, but once the administration set aside tolls it won passage of a budget that met Lamont’s key parameters — no increase in the income tax or reliance on budget reserves.

Looney shows no sign of moving on tolls, insisting that Lamont bring some Republican support to the issue for him to call a vote on an issue that he sees as potentially jeopardizing the recently won Democratic majority in the Senate. After two years of an 18-18 tie, the Senate now has 22-14 advantage for Democrats.

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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  1. We had hoped Gov. Lamont would appoint a first class team of fiscal and economic development professionals to help lift CT out of its decade long economic doldrums.
    So far its the “tax and spend” policies of previous administrations that portend CT’s future.

  2. Gov. Lamont, WAKEUP!!!! Your unpopularity data is not from the communication of your policies. The majority of hard working people completely understand your policies ARE WRONG for Connecticut’s economy AT THIS TIME.

    Stop listening to senior level Democrat “leaders” many of whom caused our fiscal problems to begin with. You know the only long-term solution is economic growth and Democrats failed at that – they have had complete control of the legislative agenda for almost 40 years – think man, use your head.

    You need to eliminate the income tax for the middle class and repeal decades of unsustainable, unaffordable mandates on your towns so they can lower property taxes. If you do that you will create a stable competitive economic advantage that the private sector will use to their advantage.

    This is not a difficult problem to solve, just a very painful one.

  3. She will work on strategy. Not a bad gig in a make work position. I really wonder if Lamont has the energy and desire to be Governor. Do you think he will even want a 2nd term. I see him handing the reins to SB in 2022.

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