Two area legislators in race for lieutenant governor

Two area legislators in race for lieutenant governor


Two area legislators could face off for the lieutenant governor position next year if chosen to run by their respective parties.

This past week, state Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, announced her candidacy for lieutenant governor alongside Democratic Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, who is running for governor. Linehan’s 103rd District includes portions of Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford.

In April, state Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, filed to run for lieutenant governor, but hasn’t formed a ticket. He represents Cheshire, Prospect, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury in the 16th District.

Linehan, nearly halfway through her first term, wasn’t considering a statewide run until asked by Drew, whom she has befriended during her time as a legislator.

“I said ‘yes’ because I truly believe in Dan and his vision,” she said. “I think that we can do some really great things for the state of Connecticut.”

Markley has spent several terms in the Senate recently as well as a stint during the 1980s. He’s hoping to garner support early on and have momentum going into the Republican nominating convention next spring.

“I think there are good things that can be accomplished with the office,” he said. “I think I can be a strength no matter who we pick at the top of the ticket.”

The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate. Markley said he feels he can run the body more effectively and in a punctual manner.

“I think our failure in the Senate to even be able to start on time or even end at a reasonable time has hurt our functioning,” he said. “If they say session at 11 a.m., you’re shocked if you’re in at 1:30 p.m.”

During their announcement earlier this week, Linehan and Drew outlined a platform including tuition-free public higher education, tax code reform, closing the achievement gap, legalized marijuana and reproductive rights.

Linehan said many of those platform points are directed at her primary effort — reducing the financial burden on the middle class.

“For years, under both Democratic and Republican rule, we’ve been taught that trickle-down economics was supposed to be our savior. We’ve seen that hasn’t been working for us,” she said.

To turn the economy around, the state needs to invest in worker training and vocational schools. Linehan said a single-payer health care system would promote entrepreneurship and job mobility, while tuition-free college would help create a more educated workforce.

“It’s going to keep us competitive,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t have community college available for our residents.”

Linehan is also frustrated with Connecticut’s detractors.

“The message we need to send is that Connecticut is worth it,” she said.

Former state senator and consumer protection commissioner Jonathan Harris, a Democrat, has formed an exploratory committee, as has Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei, both Democrats.

Republicans have four declared candidates: Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, and former U.S. comptroller general David Walker.

By declaring early and raising support, Markley said he hoped to be in a good position when a gubernatorial candidate is picked in May.

“As it stands I’m the only person running (for lieutenant governor) on the Republican side,” Markley said. “By the time people think about doing it, they’ll realize I have a pretty good lead on them.”

As lieutenant governor, Markley said he’d have the staff to tackle complex issues that he’s tried to work on as senator, such as trimming regulations. He also wants to study privacy issues, which are often technical and complicated.

“Because of technology, the possibilities of government and private encroachment are constantly shifting,” he said. “I think there’s a need to look at all of it.”

Markley said he respects Linehan. The two worked on an anti-human trafficking bill.

“I’d say we get along well, but we differ sharply on political issues,” he said.

Markley said he feels Linehan’s positions are “very liberal.”

“Drew and Linehan against any Republican would offer a very sharp contrast and I think it would work to our advantage,” Markley said.

Linehan considers herself a “moderate.”

“I’m a moderate in the sense that I will always fight for the middle class,” she said. “If my way to get there is through more progressive issues, then that’s fine too.”

She isn’t thinking about potential opponents in either party.

“Connecticut has real issues and real concerns,” she said. “That’s what I’m thinking about.” 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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