Ken Dixon: What might have been and what really happened

Photo of Ken Dixon

For a news reporter, nothing beats an election night for drama, trauma, and the sound of deadlines crashing around you like the surf at Waimea Bay (ask Brian Wilson).

Those of us with better planning instincts allow for a wide range of potential outcomes and prepare different result scenarios. This past Primary Night was no different. I’m not saying the following ledes (pronounced Leeds; it’s a newspaper thing) would have made any papers. A few days later, they have been embellished and embroidered for effect.

In case you’re just back from a surfing safari in Hawaii, the winners of the nominations for governor are Democrat Ned Lamont of Greenwich and Republican Bob Stefanowski of Madison. For those with a sense of humor, these are the ledes that might have been:

The earth stopped on Tuesday night. The polar ice caps, already sweating like NBA stars from climate change, spun around to the equator. Thousands of people in the state’s two tribal casinos cleaned them out of cash. No one was caught speeding on the Connecticut interstate highways. Comedy has turned into farce, and farce into fact. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, who served a seven-year prison sentence for public corruption, won the Democratic nomination for governor.

Republican Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, whose late-winter release of a cranial MRI showed that unlike many in his party, there is actual activity in his brain, on Tuesday night defeated runner-up Bob Stefanowski, whose last real job was steering a controversial London payday-loan operation through a thicket of regulatory penalties for charging low-income United Kingdom residents up to 3,000-percent interest.

Steve Obsitnik, the low-key, articulate, open-collared Westport tech entrepreneur who appeared to be last in the field of five mostly-frothing Republicans angling for the state’s top spot, emerged triumphant Tuesday night from the hotly contested race that was marked by nasty TV ads from two deep-pocketed millionaires who desperately, nastily reached for the state’s top spot on their first runs for elective office. Obsitnik, a former Navy submariner who wants to create 300,000 jobs and “education corridors” to align the needs of business with the next generation, said he’s more surprised than anyone, least of whom are state Democrats, who fear him more than any other candidate.

Tim Herbst, the former Trumbull first selectman who channeled his inner Dan Malloy into a frenetic, fiery Republican campaign for governor, on Tuesday night told a boisterous, victorious throng in a New Haven hotel that he’s not angry, he’s just loud and really, really wants to make sure that Bob Stefanowski of Madison and David Stemerman of Greenwich, the two self-funding millionaires whose first bids for public office fell far short, remain in the GOP. “I want to see them succeed with eventual runs for their local town Planning & Zoning Commissions,” he quipped with a wink to supporters.

David Stemerman, the Greenwich money shuffler who closed his multi-billion-dollar hedge fund to hedge his bets in competition for a thankless job that pays $175,000 a year, accepted the GOP nomination for governor Tuesday night, after voters finally decided they know the difference between candidates whose last names begin with ‘Ste.’

“I have three things to say,” Stemerman offered with his trademark algorithmic locution. “First, I want to thank the people of Connecticut for their faith and ability to know that I am not Bob Stefanowski. Second, the Governor’s Residence is an embarrassment. Thirdly, the Residence, state unions and the entire state budget, will all be a tear-down.”

And then: the winners:

Like the low-income Londoners gouged by his last employer, DFC Global, Connecticut Republicans had high interest in Bob Stefanowski, the Madison millionaire whose campaign was marked by an imperious refusal to answer questions, and whose resume includes General Electric — now kicked off the Dow Industrial Index — and UBS, which decamped Stamford, leaving an empty trading floor big enough to host an NFL game. Heading for the fall clash for governor against Ned Lamont of Greenwich, Stefanowski said he will work to remove Kansas from the map of the nation, so the economic plan of his consultant — supply-side economist/guru Art Laffer — isn’t looked into any deeper than his TV commercials.

Ned Lamont and more than 80 percent of state Democrats put an end to Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s million-dollar summer vacation on Tuesday, detouring the convicted felon’s redemption tour of Connecticut, and steering his high-speed SUV back to the Park City, where he may soon put in a full day’s work. Ganim, who invested $60,000 of his own money in the vanity bid for governor, said he will start spending off hours learning how to make pies at Town Committee Chairman Mario Testa’s pizza palace, in order to pay back his campaign.

Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 860-549-4670 or at Visit him at and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.