By Ken Dixon
HARTFORD – Dan Malloy, the former Stamford mayor, won a first-ballot endorsement Saturday morning, but Ned Lamont will challenge him this summer in what could be a divisive Democratic gubernatorial primary. Malloy easily defeated Lamont by a 1,232-582 margin in unofficial results.
The two candidates represented the difference between Democrats who support Malloy’s publicly financed bid and Lamont’s ability to use his personal wealth to tackle the anticipated well-funded bid of a Republican seeking to succeed Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
It all will be about creating momentum and turnout among party activists who will be asked to decide on their gubernatorial candidate in the middle of the dog days of summer: August 10.
Malloy will accentuate his four terms as mayor, while Lamont will position his success as a telecommunications entrepreneur, supported by Democrats in the state’s major cities, including Bridgeport and New Haven, whose delegates solidly stood behind him.
Malloy has promised to make state government more efficient, to take on public employee unions and to tackle the state’s soaring electricity rates.
Lamont has attempted to recapture the political lightning that made him the party’s darling in 2006, when he tapped into Democratic rage against the war in Iraq to chase Sen. Joe Lieberman out of the party. Lieberman ultimately prevailed, as an independent, in the general election.
Lamont’s gubernatorial campaign has been based largely on his appeal that, as a successful technology entrepreneur, he knows how to create jobs and get Connecticut’s economy growing again.
“I think Ned Lamont will do a lot for public education,” said John M. Fabrizi of Bridgeport, the city’s former mayor who was among the 74 votes. Mario Testa, the town chairman, said Lamont will support Bridgeport’s efforts to create jobs.
Malloy won the party’s 2006 nomination, then lost the primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
Malloy handily won the endorsement of the more than 1,800 delegates while the roll call was still in the fourth of the five congressional districts.
But the contest was nearly preordained to come down to a summer primary.