By SHERIDAN CYR
Though the dust has only just settled from the November 2017 municipal elections, candidates seeking elections and reelections in the General Assembly have already set their sights on this November.
State Sen. Joe Markley (R-16) is seeking the seat of lieutenant governor, and State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-81) has filed exploratory paperwork for Markley’s current seat in the Senate. Both officials’ current representative districts include the town of Southington.
Sampson and Markley share many similar viewpoints and have historically both been strong voices for fiscal conservatism. Facing continuing budget woes at the state level in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, both candidates urge that the state is in need of change.
“Connecticut will be saved by a rapid, complete change in direction,” said Markley. “We are at a point of crisis. We are driving people out. What we need is a change in leadership, and I hope to be a part of that.”
Markley reported that his campaign has successfully fundraised the $75,000 required to run for office. That was step one. Step two, which is underway, is to organize a strong grassroots volunteer force.
“Having that force will help our entire Republican ticket,” said Markley. “That’s something that is frequently missing in Republican campaigns.”
The lieutenant governor plays an important role when the Senate is closely divided. If there is a tie in the Senate, the lieutenant governor makes the tie-breaking vote. This is not a particularly common occurrence but it has happened in the past.
While Markley continues advocating for limited government and fiscal responsibility as he seeks the lieutenant governor seat, Sampson is gearing up his own campaign, which could go in one of two directions at this time. Sampson eyes Markley’s current seat in the Senate should Markley win his lieutenant governor campaign, but first, Sampson will seek reelection of his current seat in the legislature.
Sampson came into his current position in 2010, the same year Democrat Dannel Malloy was elected as Connecticut’s governor.
“The biggest challenge I face is that Republicans have continuously been in the minority throughout my time in office,” Sampson said. When he entered the legislature, there were 99 Democrats and 52 Republicans. Currently there are 79 Democrats and 72 Republicans. “Because of that, I’ve been one of the more vocal members. I’ve been extra loud, and extra persistent, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress.”
Sampson echoes Markley’s urgency for a change in leadership of the state. “What we need, more than anything, is someone courageous, someone to step up and be willing to do the right thing,” he said. He described himself as staying true to his values, noting that he has found himself at times being a lone voice in a vote and facing pressure from opposing viewpoints.
Though he is motivated and hopeful for a Senate seat, Sampson’s campaign is still “exploratory” and not yet set in stone. He is going forward with fundraising for the campaign, but at this time he still has the option to put the money towards either a campaign for Senate or State Representative.
With the help of supporters, Sampson reported his campaign has fundraised about $11,500 of the $15,000 goal.
“Joe and I are a team,” said Sampson. “He is a dear friend of mine, and as a courtesy to him, I want him to have the option to jump back into his Senate campaign as long as possible.”
Sampson said it is a tremendous honor and privilege to serve in Connecticut’s state government. “This state is my home, and I want it to be the best possible place both to live and to do business.”