For Democrats in Connecticut, A Sharp Turn To The Left
Not so long ago, most mainstream Democrats shunned progressive proposals such as paid family and medical leave, universal health care, legal recreational marijuana and the $15 minimum wage.
But in Connecticut, those once-fringe policies are gaining traction within the Democratic Party as it coalesces around a ticket of Ned Lamont for governor and Susan Bysiewicz for lieutenant governor.
Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich who rose to prominence with his insurgent U.S. Senate campaign against Joe Lieberman in 2006, says he is uniquely positioned to advocate for liberal ideals.
“Ironically as a strong progressive, I would be the first governor that’s actually started a business and has created jobs. I think I can argue our progressive agenda much more compellingly than maybe others,’’ Lamont said, adding that “a $15 minimum wage is good for business as well as good for families.’’
Democrats will meet in Hartford this weekend, where delegates are expected to endorse Lamont, although two other Democrats — Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and retired business executive Guy Smith — are collecting signatures to appear on the Aug. 14 primary ballot.
The triumph of the progressive agenda over the political centrism of “New Democrats” such as Bill Clinton is partly a legacy of the 2016 election, said Gwendoline Alphonso, an associate professor of politics at Fairfield University who studies the ideology of political parties.
“Donald Trump’s push was toward more economic nationalism and the Democratic Party is responding to that,’’ Alphonso said. “Progressive politicians are saying ‘these are our issues, he stole them from us.’’’
The rift between mainstream Democrats who backed Hillary Clinton and progressives who supported Bernie Sanders has yet to fully heal. But the new muscle of the Sanders wing is evident in key races in blue states across the country as candidates seek to