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Independents stage nominating “convention” for governor

Connecticut Post logo Connecticut Post 5/16/2018 By Ken Dixon
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: The Reverend Carl McCluster of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport on Tuesday night endorsed Oz Griebel’s independent campaign to become governor. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc The Reverend Carl McCluster of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport on Tuesday night endorsed Oz Griebel’s independent campaign to become governor.

HARTFORD — Sandwiching themselves between last week’s Republican State Convention and this coming Democratic gathering Friday, Oz Griebel and Monte Frank’s upstart bid for a third-party gubernatorial insurrection on Tuesday night sponsored its own brand of media event.

While it might take a perfect political storm for the duo to win the November election, a perfectly spectacular spring thunderstorm kept down attendance for their unconventional convention as interested voters noshed, listened to live soft rock and were pitched some ambitious politics from the long-shot pair.

The gathering, titled “Oz and Monte: No Politics. No Parties. Just Solutions Convention” at the Infinity Hall, normally a downtown music venue, attracted about 100.

It was open to those intrigued by the kind of collaborative government envisioned by Griebel, a business leader and former GOP gubernatorial candidate from Simsbury, and Frank, a Democratic lawyer and gun-safety advocate from Newtown.

“The middle is wide open,” said Griebel, stressing that the date was selected to point out the differences between his independent candidacy and those of the Republican State Convention at Foxwoods Resort Casino last week and this coming weekend’s Democratic affair in the nearby Connecticut Convention Center. “We picked this week to be in the independent radical middle.”

Griebel said the goal of the gathering was obvious: To underscore the lack of leadership and the need for a bipartisan team to become the first outsiders to win the governor race since Lowell P. Weicker’s successful 1990 campaign.

“Only through dynamic and sustainable job growth can we provide genuine opportunity for all people,” Griebel said. “And increasing the number of people paying taxes will allow us to invest intelligently in education and infrastructure and to fund those entities that support the most vulnerable among us.”

Griebel and Frank have an “aspirational goal” of 200,000 more jobs in 10 years, supporting the private-sector and solving the state’s transportation woes while encouraging more opinions from all sectors of the state.

The event featured leaders from around the state and national experts on independent politicians chosen to review the issues facing the State Capitol and residents throughout the state.

“It’s going to take us coming together,” said the Rev. Carl McCluster, senior pastor at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Bridgeport, who sat on a panel just before Griebel’s appearance. “The reality is: Whatever happened to the best idea? We’ve reduced it to petty partisan politics,” McCluster said, stressing that he has been an unaffiliated voter for the past 20 years.

a man standing in front of a sign: Monte Frank and Oz Griebel, the Independent ticket for Lt Governor and Governor, at a press conference at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown in January. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Monte Frank and Oz Griebel, the Independent ticket for Lt Governor and Governor, at a press conference at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown in January.

Cathy L. Stewart, vice president for national development at the non-profit Independentvoting.org, stressed that 43 percent of voters no longer identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats, and that Griebel and Frank are running to change what public life and governing is about. She called their candidacy “an historic Connecticut uprising.”

“At the other convention, the parties control the nominating process,” Frank said from the stage. “In this house, everyone is welcome. We are fed up with politicians putting party over people. In this house, we speak truth to power. This house is your house.”

Griebel and Frank need to gather 7,500 signatures to be on the November ballot. Griebel said that 1,800 have been verified, with as many as 7,000 more in the certification process. As soon as they are on the ballot, he said, the self-funded pair should have an easier time collection campaign contributions.

While those candidates seeking public financing can expect $6.5 million for the general election, Griebel, who is not participating in the voluntary program, recently reported a meager $21,000 on hand after raising a total of $73,000.

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT

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