Public office: None
Current post: President and chief executive officer, MetroHartford Alliance.
R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel entered the race for governor on a snowy day in late January, a suburban Hartford business leader with a booming voice, an enthusiastic manner and no statewide political profile or history of activism in the Republican Party. Four months later, he was one of three Republicans to make the cut for a primary.
Griebel, who is on a leave of absence as the president and chief executive officer of the region’s largest business association, the Metro Hartford Alliance, promises to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to a state that has been bleeding jobs and losing the next generation of workers to other states.
“We’ll think big. We’ll speak candidly. And we’ll act decisively,” Griebel said.
As president of the alliance, Griebel has interacted with political and business leaders in the Greater Hartford region for 19 years, but he is largely unknown in Fairfield County, where Republican primaries are won and lost. His hope is that Tom Foley of Greenwich and Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele of Stamford split the downstate vote.
Griebel, who also was the chief executive officer of BankBoston’s Connecticut subsidiary, immediately tried to position himself between the two leading Republicans, characterizing himself as business leader with realistic ideas about changing government. On the day he announced, he shook off a question about whether he would run the state like a business.
“It’s not that simple,” he said.
Like the other candidates, Griebel said the state must do what it can to cut costs over the short- and long-term. He said the state must negotiate with state employees for a contract that will allow new hires to be given a defined-contribution retirement plan, not a pension. The state must examine all aspects of spending, including whether or not the state can afford multiple institutions of higher education, he said.
But he also said he could not rule out seeking new taxes, given that the next governor will face a $3 billion shortfall in an annual budget of $18.6 billion. Foley, who won the GOP endorsement at the party’s convention, has taken a no-tax pledge that independent analysts believe will be nearly impossible to keep.
“I would never rule anything off limits,” Griebel said on his first day as a candidate. “I think that’s a foolish thing to do in any time.”
Education: B.A., Dartmouth College; J.D., Suffolk University
Personal: Griebel, 60, is married to Kirsten Griebel. They are the parents of three grown children and reside in Simsbury.