Scene from Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz's TV ad, before it pivots to an attack on Republican Bob Stefanowski.

“Elections Matter,” the first commercial by the campaign of Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, is a sweet-and-sour comparison of the Democrats’ Lamont-Bysiewicz ticket with Republican Bob Stefanowski on abortion, guns and Donald Trump.

“The threats we face seem devastating. It’s why elections really matter,” Bysiewicz says in the spot. “And it’s why Ned Lamont and I are protecting reproductive freedoms and keeping our kids safe from gun violence.”

Exactly at the midpoint, the ad pivots to Stefanowski.

“Bob Stefanowski was endorsed by Donald Trump,” Bysiewicz says over a split-screen image of Trump and Stefanowski. “He’s supported by extremists who fought to overturn Roe. He even got an A rating from the NRA.”

Two of the three assertions are unquestionably true, if outdated: Trump and the NRA endorsed Stefanowski — albeit in 2018, not in 2022.

YouTube video

On reproductive rights, Stefanowski says he supports Connecticut’s current laws affirming a right to abortion up to fetal viability, but he supports requiring parental notification for minors to terminate a pregnancy. 

And that position won him compliments from a prominent abortion opponent, Peter Wolfgang of the Family Institute. Democrats also made an issue of a planned fundraiser for Stefanowski with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, an abortion opponent who co-chairs the Republican Governors Association. Ricketts later canceled his attendance.

Stefanowski has refused to say if he would have signed a new law declaring Connecticut a “safe harbor” from lawsuits brought against out-of-state women seeking abortions here or the abortion providers. His running mate, Rep. Laura Devlin of Fairfield, voted for it.

In response, the Stefanowski campaign offered its own comparison to 2018 and pivot to inflation, its favorite theme of 2022.

Stefanowski has indicated he is not seeking the endorsement this year of the NRA or any other group requiring completion of a candidate questionnaire. He says he supports Connecticut’s current gun safety laws, including the universal background checks and limits on high-capacity military-style weapons imposed after the Sandy Hook school massacre.

Like most Republicans running for office in Connecticut, Stefanowski has broken with the former president over his claim that President Joe Biden won by fraud.

When the Bysiewicz ad goes on the air Tuesday, it will be one of two from different committees trying to capitalize on elements of Stefanowski’s first campaign, a reminder that a previous campaign establishes something of a record for someone who never has held office.

A super PAC funded by the Democratic Governors Association is running a commercial reminding voters of Stefanowski’s past as the chief executive of a payday loan company. It also reiterates Democratic conclusions that his 2018 proposal to phase out the income tax only could be accomplished by gutting essential services and aid to municipalities.

Stefanowski has not renounced the income-tax proposal, but it is not an element of his current campaign. In response to the Bysiewicz ad, the Stefanowski campaign offered its own comparison to 2018 and a mention of inflation, its favorite theme of 2022.

“If Governor Lamont and Lt. Governor Bysiewicz want to continue running a campaign from four years ago, may we can start by looking at what food, fuel and family costs were four years ago and compare those to the prices that are crushing everyone in Connecticut today as a result of their higher taxes,” said Liz Kurantowicz, an advisor to Stefanowski.

Candidates for lieutenant governor raise their own money and have separate candidate committees, even though voters must cast a vote for a ticket in November, not separately for governor and lieutenant governor.

Bysiewicz began July with $347,407 cash on hand in her campaign account. Devlin, who was picked in April as Stefanowski’s running mate, had $123,131. Devlin goes unmentioned in the Bysiewicz ad.

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.