Just before Thanksgiving, I received a call out of the blue from a friend of Oz Griebel, a well-known and very respected business leader in Connecticut, and a Republican. He began by telling me that Mr. Griebel is exploring a run for governor, and that I was on his short list.
“Short list for what,” I asked. “You know I am a Democrat, right? And, I believe strongly in gun violence prevention, social justice reform, and protecting our most vulnerable” among other issues.
He responded: “Yes. That’s why we are considering you as his running mate. Oz is going to run as an Independent.”
As a lifelong Democrat, the thought of running with a former Republican on an Independent ticket was not something I had contemplated, but I promised to think about it.
In a time when people are exhausted by the political rancor and gridlock, and are yearning for bipartisan solutions, I immediately understood the power of a Republican and a Democratic willing to shed party labels to join forces. After many meetings with Oz, he asked me to be his running mate, and I accepted.
Connecticut is one of the wealthiest and most productive states in the nation, but for many reasons related to politics as usual we have lagged in our recovery from the great recession. Decisions made decades ago have left Connecticut in debt. The unwillingness to make policy changes due to political pressures have — at times — made matters worse.
Many of the challenges our state faces are complicated. No one has all the right answers. That is why the bipartisan approach we intend to take to state government is so crucial. Oz and I are presenting Connecticut voters with a new political model based on the best ideas regardless of where they come from. No parties. No politics. Just solutions.
Connecticut’s greatest natural resource is the talent running many successful big and small businesses, the care evident in our families and communities, the vision of students working their way through our public schools and our public and private colleges and universities, and our diversity.
Our administration will be committed to including many voices when it comes to developing solutions to address our challenges. We seek to build bridges to all communities, and attract the most talented people.
The many candidates seeking the Democratic and Republican nominations for governor will spend the next six or more months trying to win the support of one narrow band of Connecticut voters before seeking a single vote in the general election. The promises they make during the primary process will inhibit their ability to effectively move Connecticut forward, because they will have rejected certain policy ideas to win the backing of their respective parties.
Oz and I have no desire to win an election by dividing Connecticut into partisan camps, using simplistic wedge issues or engaging in name-calling. We know the voters are smarter than that, and they should demand more from those who seek public office. Our campaign will be on the issues.
Today’s politics continually present voters with false choices between liberal and conservative points of view. The truth is, good government is the application of common sense. Most people are in the middle.
They want government to run efficiently, and create an environment for success and opportunity for everyone. We believe we can simultaneously act with fiscal responsibility, spur economic growth, and protect our most vulnerable people.
The issues facing Connecticut in the years ahead are many and complicated. One thing is certain — our reliance on the two-party political system to solve those problems has not worked. Independent bipartisan leadership from the executive branch presents a better option to right the ship.
Our campaign will remain focused not on blame for past decisions, but on solutions. We will seek ideas and help from anyone who wants to join us in developing those solutions.
Above all, we will build an administration that sets priorities based on the public good and helps build an economy that can support our shared policy goals.
Our administration will break through the partisan barriers currently preventing Connecticut from achieving its full potential.
Editor's Note: This article originally published in the Stamford Advocate, and has been slightly modified for publication on IVN. It was republished with permission from the author.
Image: Monte Frank (left) and Oz Griebel (right) are running for Lt. Governor and Governor of Connecticut.