This story is part of CT Mirror Explains, an ongoing effort to distill our wide-ranging reporting into a "what you need to know" format. To dive deeper on any element of this topic, use the links in the story.
Original reporting by Mark Pazniokas. Compiled by Gabby DeBenedictis.
Ned Lamont, 68, a Democrat, was elected as Connecticut’s 89th governor in 2018 and took office on Jan. 9, 2019.
He and his wife, Annie, are residents of Greenwich and are the parents of three adult children.
Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Ned Lamont?
Lamont’s family tree runs centuries deep in America, with branches in Wall Street capitalism and left-wing politics.
He is the great-grandson of Thomas W. Lamont, who represented the U.S. at the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I in 1919, and was an informal adviser to Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt as a partner and eventual chairman of J.P. Morgan & Co.
His great uncle, Corliss, was an American socialist and philosopher who ran for U.S. Senate in New York in 1952 on the American labor ticket.
Before entering politics, Ned Lamont founded Campus Televideo, a small company that specialized in cable systems in colleges, universities and gated communities.
The governor’s wife, Annie, is a successful venture capitalist. They own a home in Greenwich and a summer house off the coast of Maine.
His adjusted gross income from investments averaged $8.65 million a year in 2018, 2019 and 2020, according to summaries of state and federal tax returns his reelection campaign released in April. He takes no salary as governor.
What is Lamont’s political background?
Lamont is a Democrat who became a liberal anti-war icon during a U.S. Senate campaign against U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in 2006.
When no Democrat of any standing would challenge Lieberman over his support of George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, Lamont ran and won the Democratic nomination in a primary only to see Lieberman prevail in the general election as a petitioning candidate with Republican support.
Lamont sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010 but lost to Dannel P. Malloy, the longtime mayor of Stamford who went on to win the general election.
When Malloy decided not to seek a third term in 2018, Lamont launched his second bid for governor. He easily defeated Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim in the Democratic primary.
Lamont then defeated Republican Bob Stefanowski by 44,000 votes — about 3 percentage points — in the general election.
Was Lamont always expected to run for re-election?
The answer wasn’t always clear.
Lamont says he is surprised by those who think his decision to run again ever was in doubt — even in 2019, when his approval rating plummeted amid a push for highway tolls on all motor vehicles that went against a campaign promise to consider only truck tolls.
Lamont’s favorite talking point for his first year was the delivery of a budget on time and without drama or higher tax rates on income or sales, despite starting the year with a huge projected deficit.
To help close that shortfall, Lamont and the legislature canceled or postponed scheduled tax cuts and added a 1% surcharge on prepared meals, broadened what is subject to the 6.35% sales tax, reduced a tax credit for small and mid-sized businesses and imposed a 10-cent fee on plastic bags.
How have Lamont’s COVID-19 policies affected the race?
Lamont’s management of the pandemic has defined him more than any other issue, lifting his approval rating from the bottom quintile of gubernatorial ratings to the top.
In March 2020, he closed restaurants, bars and other public venues. But Lamont ultimately shifted strategies and kept schools and businesses open throughout most of the pandemic.
When vaccines became available, he rejected the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to follow a complicated eligibility protocol and instead offered the vaccines by age cohorts. It was simple to administer, and it put Connecticut among the leaders in vaccination rates.
What is Lamont’s pitch to voters in his re-election bid?
Lamont is campaigning primarily on his record of managing the state’s budget, reducing debt and reversing the state’s reputation as unfriendly to business. Over his first term, the state’s finances have turned rapidly from alarming deficits to fat surpluses, boosted by increasing tax revenues and federal aid.
Lamont’s pitch: His administration has paid down the state’s pension debt; built up the budget reserves as a hedge against a potential recession; raised the minimum wage; expanded the earned income tax credit; passed paid family medical leave; invested in education, job training and infrastructure; and cut taxes.
Where does he stand on abortion rights?
Lamont has been a consistent supporter of reproductive rights since entering public life and pledges to oppose any effort to change Connecticut’s 1990 law codifying the tenets of Roe v. Wade and affirming a women’s right to abortion.
The General Assembly chose to tackle abortion rights this spring as the U.S. Supreme Court weighed Dobbs v. Jackson, passing a law that makes Connecticut a safe harbor for abortion patients and providers against out-of-state litigation. Legislators correctly anticipated that the court’s conservative majority could use it to revise or overturn Roe v. Wade, and Lamont put his support behind the effort.
What is Lamont’s style on the campaign trail?
Lamont has taken the optimist’s role in the campaign.
He models himself, only half-jokingly, after the preternaturally positive TV character Ted Lasso. The goofy, infectious optimism of the fictional soccer coach resonates with the governor who still marvels at being in a game where some people root for failure.
Lamont’s approach rarely involves a lunge for the jugular. He prefers jabs — some gentle, some not.
How could ongoing investigations affect Lamont’s campaign?
Lamont began the election year facing the tricky task of managing an unfolding school construction financing scandal.
First came disclosure of an FBI investigation, then a steady drip of complaints that Konstantinos Diamantis, an administration official Lamont fired in October, had used his perch in state government to pressure municipalities to hire certain contractors for state-financed school projects.
Lamont said he reacted quickly by firing Diamantis and ordered audits of the programs he oversaw. Public polling shows voters consider him trustworthy, an indication that the political damage was limited.