By Erica Moser
Groton — Congressman Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, on Monday afternoon endorsed Ned Lamont for governor, because of Lamont’s focus on improving training for the state’s workforce.
Courtney tied his endorsement, in part, to Electric Boat’s forecast of growing from 16,200 to 20,000 employees over the next five years.
To do that, he said, “We have to have a governor who is focused like a laser beam in terms of making sure that pre-apprenticeship programs, apprenticeship programs, STEM education, community colleges, tech schools, are all focused in terms of making sure that this state is ready to take on this challenge.”
Lamont, a Greenwich businessman who has made his money in cable television, will face off against Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim in the Aug. 14 primary. The two are having their first debate on Thursday.
Ganim has called for Lamont to limit his primary spending to $1 million. Lamont said that he was “going to fight like heck” and not limit his spending, emphasizing that as he looks toward the general election, he doesn’t see Republican candidates Bob Stefanowski or David Stemerman limiting their spending.
In May, delegates to the state Democratic Party convention endorsed Lamont for governor. Asked why he didn’t endorse Lamont sooner, Courtney said he has been “consumed with a few things going on in Washington” and that schedules were not lining up for he and Lamont.
The endorsement Monday took place at Boilermakers Local 614, on Sacred Heart Drive. Frank Wood, business manager for Local 614, said the union intends to endorse Lamont, and he expects it to be official on Wednesday.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers is an affiliate of the Metal Trades Council. President Ken de la Cruz said MTC intends on officially endorsing Lamont later this week.
Also attending the endorsement were New London Mayor Michael Passero and Bob Statchen, the Democratic candidate for the 18th District state Senate seat currently held by Republican Heather Somers of Groton.
Lamont said as governor, his job for the next four years would be to make sure that young people know that “not only do we have the job opportunities here in Connecticut, but we train people for those jobs. And we haven’t done such a great job of that over the last 10 to 20 years.”
He said that after General Electric announced it was leaving the state, one thing he heard from its leaders was that “Connecticut is not training people for the 21st century.”
“We’ve got to make sure we’re training people for these jobs that we’re not filling right now, and I promise you, these are going to be Connecticut jobs for Connecticut people,” Lamont said. “That’s how we get this state going again, and that’s how we get the state growing again, and I’m not somebody who says we need more taxes, but we do need more taxpayers to grow our economy going forward.”
Courtney said most of his conversation with Lamont has been about workforce issues, but that they’ve also talked about agriculture and the proposed Griswold gun range.
The congressman explained to The Day that he has been frustrated that Connecticut lags other states by not allowing for production of industrial hemp.
“The dairy business is so hard right now,” Courtney said. “If you had other sources of cash crops and revenue, it would make the Connecticut economy much more sustainable.”
He added that Lamont is strong on helping Connecticut catch up to other states.