Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski on stage during the debate.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski at a debate at Mohegan Sun on Nov. 1, 2022. Anthony Quinn / WTNH

Gov. Ned Lamont outspent Republican Bob Stefanowski by nearly a 2-1 margin through Oct. 30 as combined expenditures by the two wealthy self-funders reached $34 million, a record for a Connecticut gubernatorial general election.

Records filed this week show Lamont spent $6.9 million in October, bringing his total to $21.7 million — a 36% increase over the $15.9 million the Democrat spent winning his first term in 2018.

Stefanowski spent $3 million in October, bringing his total to $12.2 million — nearly double the $6.6 million expended in the race he lost by 3 percentage points four years ago. 

With another $2 million contribution last month, Stefanowski’s total personal investment is now $12 million.

Total spending by gubernatorial campaigns was higher in 2018, when seven candidates in a two-way Democratic primary and five-way Republican primary helped drive spending past $40 million. One self-funded GOP challenger, David Stemerman, put $13 million into his campaign account and spent $6.7 million before losing the primary.

The spending this year comes without the added expense of primaries.

In addition to the personal funds he’s committed, Stefanowski also has raised $1.5 million from others, including $97,431 from donors last month. Lamont has raised $546,566 from others, including $57,316 from donors last month.

Neither man is close to the Connecticut record for self-funding a campaign. Republican Linda McMahon spent $50 million on each of her two runs for U.S. Senate, losing to Richard Blumenthal in 2010 and Chris Murphy in 2012.

Rob Hotaling, the Independent candidate for governor, spent $14,832 in October, bringing his total to $60,863. More than two-thirds of his spending has been his own money.

Running for governor has become a rich man’s game after a single race in 2014 in which both major party nominees abided by the spending limits imposed on participants in Connecticut’s public financing program.

Lamont and Stefanowski opted out of the Citizens’ Election Program in 2018 and again this year. It would have limited their total spending to about $8 million each for the entire campaign, most in public grants of $7.7 million.

Dannel P. Malloy won the 2010 election with public financing, despite being outspent by wealthy opponents in the primary and general election. Lamont spent $9.6 million losing to Malloy in the primary; Republican Tom Foley spent $12.6 million, the vast majority his own money.

Other than the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, all the major-party nominees for statewide constitutional offices have qualified for public financing and its spending limits this year. General election grants for those offices are $968,250.

Three super PACs also have spent $6.15 million opposing Lamont, supplementing Stefanowski’s $12 million. The Democratic Governors Association has buttressed Lamont’s budget with $2.73 million on ads opposed to Stefanowski.

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.