Bob Stefanowski aims for governor a second time

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski addresses delegates at the GOP state convention in May. / Photo by Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org

This article is part of a series of profiles of the gubernatorial candidates in the November 8 election.

By Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

Bob Stefanowski is Connecticut’s Republican nominee for governor for the second time after losing to Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, in 2018.

Stefanowski, 60, and his wife, Amy, live in the coastal community of Madison and are parents to three daughters, the youngest still in college.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who is Bob Stefanowski?

Stefanowski was born in New Haven and his family lived one floor of a three-family house in the Newhallville section of New Haven, then bought a house in North Haven while a sophomore.

It’s an origin story he uses to contrast his middle-class upbringing with Lamont’s multi-generational wealth. But her home is now a 5,000 square foot house the Stefanowskis bought in 2014 for $2.975 million. It features a pool, carriage house and hillside views of Long Island Sound.

In September, Stefanowski published tax returns showing total revenue of $36.8 million over the past three years, mostly from its domestic and overseas consulting clients, which it had declined to identify.

But it was recently revealed that he is consultant to a company headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmanthe Saudi leader accused by the United States for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi..

What is Stefanowski’s professional background?

Stefanowski rose through the ranks of corporate giant General Electric and left in 2007 after a 13-year term capped by the board of directors electing him as the company’s leader.

His last full-time job was as managing director of DFC Global, a payday loan company whose high-interest loans are prohibited by Connecticut usury laws. He worked there from 2014 to 2017.

Stefanowski has had a consulting business since then, working for clients “all over the world”.

He is a political latecomer after not voting for long periods. He did not vote for president in 2016. He was a registered Democrat before becoming a Republican.

What happened in his first gubernatorial run in 2018?

When Stefanowski competed for an open gubernatorial seat in 201844,000 votes and 3 percentage points separated the two.

At the time, he ran on a big idea from which he rarely and reluctantly departed: a supply-side insistence that Connecticut’s economic and fiscal ills were byproducts of the state’s adoption of a broad-based income tax in 1991.

His pitch to voters: Elect him in 2018 (and re-elect him in 2022 and 2026), and he’ll do his best to eliminate income tax by 2028.

While Stefanowski no longer makes that pitch, he also never backed down from his view that it would be desirable. Stefanowski never indicated whether other taxes, which were reduced with the passage of the income tax, should be increased.

Does Stefanowski still align himself with the NRA?

The NRA approved him in 2018 with an A grade for his answers to a questionnaire that neither he nor the NRA ever released and Stefanowski refuses to discuss.

Stefanowski walked away from the NRA and any suggestion he would weaken Connecticut strict gun safety lawsincluding universal background checks and limits on high-capacity military-grade weapons after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

What is his position on abortion?

Stefanowski describes himself as a abortion rights supportera position consistent with his position in 2018. But the depth of his commitment has been questioned, due to his insistence that the issue is immaterial in a state with a law affirming a right to abortion. .

After initially saying he wouldn’t seek to change state law, Stefanowski more recently said he would defend it, with one exception. He would welcome the addition of a provision requiring parental notification for a minor to have an abortion, rather than the current requirement that a minor be advised to seek the involvement of her family.

Stefanowski declined to say whether he would have signed a Connecticut law passed in late April that gives abortion patients and providers a safe haven from so-called Texas-authorized lawsuits. His running mate, Laura Devlin of Fairfield, was one of seven House Republicans to vote for the bill, which was signed by Lamont.

How would Stefanowski deal with high inflation?

His nearly $2 billion tax relief plana mix of one-time and permanent tax cuts, he said, would ease the burden on consumers, small businesses and those who pay property taxes, expand the state fuel tax exemption and extend it through 2023, and would reinforce unemployment in lack of money confidence.

Stefanowski’s plan would use up some of the fiscal reserve, leaving the state vulnerable to tax hikes or service cuts in the event of a recession. It would also hamper Connecticut’s efforts to accelerate retirement debt repayment in good years.

But Stefanowski says that if more tax relief can revive the economy, the state will ultimately be in a better position to pay off its pension debt faster too.

What is his style in the countryside?

A consistent theme motivating Stefanowski and his second gubernatorial campaign is a disdain for Lamont’s business acumen and management style, and an insistence that he could do better.

Stefanowski was focus on pocket issuesblaming the governor for not giving more tax breaks on the state surplus to offset the impact of inflation.

But Lamont’s double-digit lead in the polls and Stefanowski’s messaging shift from inflation to social issues, such as his opposition to transgender athletes who compete in women’s sports and revamping his campaign staff, amounts to a tacit admission it needs more than inflation to unseat a sitting governor in Connecticut for the first time since Abraham Ribicoff defeated John Lodge in 1954.

Gabby DeBenedictis compiled this report.

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