Markley: Lieutenant governor is position on ticket ‘where I can most be of service’

Markley: Lieutenant governor is position on ticket ‘where I can most be of service’


With a stable of Republicans considering a run for governor next year, Sen. Joe Markley said he believes he can fortify the party’s ticket as lieutenant governor.

“I’m very interested in having some Republican elected as governor next year, because we have to change direction in this state,” Markley, R-Southington, said Friday about his decision to run for statewide office in 2018. “I feel that this is the spot on the ticket where I can most be of service.”

Markley became the first candidate for the office when he filed his paperwork March 24.

When asked why he didn’t aim for the top office, he said there are already many strong Republican candidates considering a run.

So far two Republicans, Rep. Prasad Srinivasan, R-Glastonbury, and former Coventry Town Council member Micah Welintukonis, have formed committees, but several others have formed exploratory committees to examine runs for unspecified state offices. Many are believed to be considering running for governor.

State Republican Chairman J.R. Romano shared Markley’s view on the potential race for Republican gubernatorial nominee, saying the group of candidates is “truly diverse” in thought and experience.

“The Republican party is blessed with a deep bench of talent,” he said.

Markley said his decision wasn’t made out of concern that he would lose to a more moderate Republican as the party seeks to take the governor’s seat back after two straight victories by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat.

“It’s not that — I think I could go into the cities and bring a message to people who haven’t normally listened to the Republicans,” he said, adding his career as an English teacher has helped him polish his public speaking skills.

Markley is regarded as the most conservative member of the state Senate, a title that he embraces but also said is likely due to his being unapologetic about his stances. He said Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, who also represents part of Southington, has a similar approach.

State Democratic Party spokesman Leigh Appleby said he’s not surprised by Markley’s decision to run “given the right wing direction of the Connecticut Republican Party and its leaders.” He also said Markley and other Republicans would “be a rubber stamp” for President Donald Trump.

“This is a party full of candidates and elected officials who won’t say no to President Trump’s backwards agenda of threatening reproductive rights, taking health care away from middle class families, and discriminating against LGBT people,” Appleby said in a statement. “We need state officials who will stand up to the president’s attacks on Connecticut.”

Romano said Democrats reference Trump as a way to deflect attention away from Malloy, who rated among the least popular governors in a series of polls last year.

“If they can’t see a problem in how they manage the state, how can they fix it?” he asked in response.

Markley said he sees Trump as being irrelevant to the 2018 gubernatorial race, and he wants to focus on shrinking government and fixing the economy.

“It’s not to say that we need zero government, but the pendulum has swung too far in my opinion,” he said. “State government is larger than we can sustain, and we have to look at returning functions to the local level and return control to the local level.”

If elected, Markley said he plans to focus on reducing state regulations and helping whoever is governor navigate the legislative process, noting many potential Republican candidates have no experience in the General Assembly.

While Connecticut’s parties traditionally had gubernatorial nominees pick their running mates at convention, a handful of lieutenant governor candidates have run unattached for the Republican nomination in 2010 and 2014.

Markley said he plans to do the same because he doesn’t see that trend reversing. 203-317-2266 Twitter: @reporter_savino

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