- The Washington Times - Monday, February 15, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. | Ned Lamont, the political upstart who challenged Sen. Joe Lieberman four years ago and drove him from the Democratic Party, plans to officially announce his bid for Connecticut governor this week, according to a state Democratic official.

The official said that Mr. Lamont will declare his candidacy Tuesday at the Old State House in downtown Hartford, the same location where he announced his improbable Senate run back in March of 2006. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the campaign has not yet made the announcement.

Mr. Lamont won the 2006 Democratic primary against Mr. Lieberman, but the senator ran in the general election as an independent and won. Mr. Lamont spent $16 million of his own money and was able to tap into the discontent among many Democrats over the incumbent’s support of the war in Iraq.

The 56-year-old Greenwich businessman, who founded a cable television company that services colleges and universities, formed an exploratory committee in November for the governor’s race and has said he’s willing to spend his own money even though Connecticut has a public financing system.

News of the race was first reported on the Web site of the Connecticut Post newspaper.

Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said Mr. Lamont is the best known candidate in the race, which appears to be wide open since Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced she would not run for re-election.

“He got national attention when he ran against Lieberman in 2006 so he starts off with an immediate edge in name recognition,” Mr. Schwartz said. “And he starts out with a big edge in money.”

Former state House Speaker James Amann exited the governor’s race last week, meaning Mr. Lamont would be the only declared candidate for the Democratic nomination. Four other potential Democratic candidates - former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi and health care advocate Juan Figueroa - still have exploratory committees, but haven’t committed to running.

A Quinnipiac Poll from January showed that 27 percent of registered Democrats would back Mr. Lamont in a primary. Mr. Schwartz said Mr. Malloy is within striking range and that it’s still possible for a lesser-known candidate to emerge from the pack.

On the Republican side, another wealthy Greenwich businessman, Tom Foley, has announced a run.

Mr. Lamont has said that he is complying with the rules of Connecticut’s public financing program, such as refusing contributions from lobbyists and state contractors, even though he has not yet decided whether to participate. Last month, Mr. Lamont said he’s concerned about agreeing to the spending limits if Mr. Foley pours millions of dollars of his own money into the race.

“I’m a strong believer in arms control, but I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament,” Mr. Lamont said. “If everybody’s playing by the same rules, its an easier decision. Right now, somebody’s already out of the box and that impacts my thinking.”

Besides Mr. Foley, there are seven other Republicans who’ve formed candidate or exploratory committees in the race.

The race could be one of two hotly contested campaigns on the state ballot in November, as Democrats also try to hold on to the seat of retiring five-term incumbent Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.

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