Chris Mattei, one of several Democrats considering a run for governor, announced Monday that he is changing course and running for attorney general.
Mattei, a former federal prosecutor, made his announcement one week after Attorney General George Jepsen, also a Democrat, announced that he will not seek re-election next year.
"I spent the better part of the last decade serving the people of Connecticut as an assistant United States attorney,” Mattei said in an email announcing his decision. “It was my responsibility to stand up for what was right and what the law required, without fear or favor – regardless of how wealthy, powerful or influential someone might be.”
Mattei also said that he feels he “could be of best use to the people of Connecticut” as its attorney general, especial after the election of President Donald Trump. Mattei said Trump’s election in November 2016 means the nation “face(s) a new challenge.”
Mattei was head of the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption Unit for the U.S. Attorney's Connecticut office. In that role, he oversaw the prosecution of John G. Rowland that resulted in the former governor returning to federal prison.
The announcement brought praise from several Democrats, including municipal officials, union representatives, and undocumented immigrants.
“We need people like Chris Mattei to stand with us – and with everyone who is vulnerable, who is voiceless, who is at risk of being left out and left behind. For everyone who worries that the actions of the Trump Administration will undercut the values we were raised with in Connecticut,” Jonathan Gonzalez-Cruz, a DACA recipient, said in Mattei’s press release.
Mattei’s candidacy drew a quick response from the Republican Attorneys General Assocation, “does not need an activist attorney general.” They also referenced a report from the Connecticut Post that cited campaign filings showing Mattei paid for an aide’s speeding ticket with campaign funds.
“It’s time for a fresh start in Connecticut,” the RAGA said in a statement. “Job creators will drive Connecticut’s economic recovery, not repeating the failed policies of the past. The next attorney general can be a part of the solution, by creating a climate of regulatory certainty."
Mattei’s announcement makes him the second Democrat to express interest in the Jepsen’s seat since he declared he will not run next year. State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, and co-chair of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, announced last week that he has formed an exploratory committee.
On the Republican side, John Shaban, a former state representative from Redding, has declared his intention to enter the race.