By John Celock
Hartford’s first term mayor is exploring a bid to become the nation’s youngest governor.
Mayor Luke Bronin announced last week the creation of an exploratory committee to pursue the Democratic nomination for Connecticut governor. A 38-year-old former top aide to retiring Gov. Dan Malloy (D), Bronin enters a growing gubernatorial field just two years after winning election to run Connecticut’s capital city.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked with hundreds of people across Connecticut. They’ve shared the challenges that their families and their communities are facing,” Bronin said in an announcement on his website. “They’ve also shared their belief that Connecticut is a great place to live, and a great place to raise a family — and that with the right leadership and vision, we can get our state back on track.”
Bronin, who pledged to serve a full four-year term during the 2015 mayoral campaign, enters the race as the candidate with the most ties to Malloy, one of the nation’s most unpopular governors. Bronin, a former Obama Administration official, describes his decision to seek the governor’s mansion as a continuation of his work in Hartford, touting his work on addressing the city’s fiscal crisis and focusing on progressive issues.
Bronin noted that he wants to protect progressive values in the state from President Donald Trump. He also said that his background allows him to address Connecticut’s fiscal issues.
“So that’s what I think Connecticut needs: leadership that’s ready to face Connecticut’s fiscal crisis honestly and boldly, ready to put forward a strong vision for economic growth and opportunity, and ready to stand strong in defense of the values that truly make our state great,” Bronin wrote.
Bronin was elected Hartford mayor in 2015 following a career largely focused on state and national issues. A Rhodes Scholar, Bronin served in the U.S. Naval Reserves and was deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer in 2010 and 2011. Bronin then worked in the Obama Administration, first as a senior advisor to the deputy treasury secretary then as deputy assistant treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes.
Bronin then served two years as Malloy’s general counsel before stepping down to run for mayor.
Bronin joins a large field seeking to succeed Malloy. Bronin has the closest ties to the outgoing governor in the Democratic field after Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman (D) announced that she would not seek statewide office in 2018.
In addition to Bronin, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, former state Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, former state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly, businesswoman Jacey Wyatt and former hedge fund executive Dita Bhargava have announced Democratic candidacies for governor. Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination as well.
Last week, former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for state attorney general instead of continuing his bid for governor.
On the Republican side, state Sen. Toni Boucher, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Trumbell First Selectman Tim Herbst, state Sen. Tony Hwang, state Rep. Prasad Srinivasen, former U.S. Comptroller General Dave Walker attorney Peter Lumaj and Stamford Administration Director Mike Handler are seeking the governorship.
Bronin is the third thirty-something to enter the Connecticut governor’s race, following the 37-year-old Drew and the 37-year-old Herbst. Herbst has been Trumbull’s chief executive for eight years and unsuccessfully sought the state treasurer’s office in 2014, while Drew was first elected Middletown mayor in 2011.
Bronin, Drew and Herbst are part of a growing field of thirty-something gubernatorial candidates nationwide. Iowa state Sen. Nate Boulton, 37, is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in his state, Georgia state Rep. Stacey Evans, 39, is seeking the Democratic nomination in her state, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, 39, is seeking the Republican nomination in his state, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), 38, and businessman Chris King, 39, are both seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida governor, Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan, 37, is seeking the Democratic nomination in her state, former Wisconsin state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, 38, is seeking the Democratic nomination in her state, former Michelle Obama advisor Krish Vignarajah, 38, is seeking the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor, former Kansas Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty, 38, is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in his state, businessman John Warren, 38, is seeking the GOP nomination in South Carolina and Maine Senate Minority Leader Garrett Mason, 32, is a candidate for the Republican nomination in his state.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), 43, is currently the nation’s youngest governor. There are currently 14 statewide officials under the age of 40 in the country, with Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax (D) set to be sworn-in next month. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), 34, is the nation’s youngest statewide elected official and Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), 29, who was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this year, is the nation’s youngest statewide official.
In addition, several teenagers are running for governor in Kansas and Vermont.
Bronin touched on the need to keep young professionals in Connecticut in his announcement, noting the need to focus on the state’s cities, in order to grow suburban and rural areas.
“We need to recognize that vibrant, culturally-rich cities can be the economic engines that help us keep our suburbs and small towns strong — and keep our young people here at home,” Bronin wrote.
Statewide Officeholder Under 40
Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), 29, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), 34
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson (R), 34
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger (R), 34
Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D), 34
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway (D), 35, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg (R), 35, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Jon Godfried (R), 35
West Virginia Auditor J.B. McCluskey (R), 35
Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball (R), 36
Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D), 36
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 37
North Dakota Auditor Josh Gallion (R), 38
Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax (D), 38
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 39
Gubernatorial Candidates Under 40 In 2018 Election
Junior High School Student Ethan Sonneborn (D), 13, (Vermont)
High School Student Jack Bergeson (D), 16, (Kansas)
High School Student Joseph Tutera, Jr. (R), 16, (Kansas)
High School Student Tyler Ruzich (R), 17, (Kansas)
High School Student Ethan Randleas (R), 17, (Kansas)
High School Student Dominic Scavuzzo (R), 17, (Kansas)
State Senate Minority Leader Garrett Mason (R), 32, (Maine)
State Sen. Nate Boulton (D), 37, (Iowa)
Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D), 37, (Connecticut)
Trumbell First Selectman Tim Herbst (R), 37, (Connecticut)
State Rep. Paulette Jordan (D), 37, (Idaho)
Former Michelle Obama Advisor Krish Vignarajah (D), 38, (Maryland)
Former State Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty (D), 38, (Kansas)
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), 38, (Florida)
Former State Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D), 38, (Wisconsin)
Businessman John Warren (R), 38, (South Carolina)
Businessman Chris King (D), 39, (Florida)
State Rep. Stacey Evans (D), 39, (Georgia)
State Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 39, (Nevada)