NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — The 30-year-old mayor of New Britain has announced she is joining the crowded field of candidates exploring a run for governor.
Erin Stewart, a Republican, on Monday made the announcement that she has opened an exploratory committee on Facebook Live, a forum she has used to connect with voters and constituents and one that is emblematic of her generation.
Stewart, whose father, Timothy Stewart, previously served as New Britain’s mayor, became the youngest mayor in city history when she defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2013 at age 26. She has won re-election twice in the largely Democratic city, best known as the home of tool maker Stanley Black & Decker.
She told her social media audience that she does not fit neatly into any political ideology.
“I am fiscally conservative; I am pro-choice; I have a gun permit; I support responsible gun ownership; I support the civil rights of all individuals,” she said.
She added that she wins elections “because Democrats and independents feel comfortable casting a ballot for me.”
Stewart has touted successes such as eliminating a $19 million city budget deficit. But she also has been blamed for losing the city’s Double-A baseball team, the Rock Cats, to Hartford, where they became the Yard Goats. New Britain replaced the team with an independent minor league club, the New Britain Bees.
Stewart’s reputation for working with both sides of the political aisle took a hit after last November’s elections, which saw Democrats reclaim control of the city’s common council. Stewart and the Democrats have since battled over several policy issues, including her plans to refinance $115 million in city debt.
More than two dozen Democrats, Republicans and independents have expressed an interest in a run for governor in November. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election.
Stewart joins the mayors of Bridgeport, Hartford, Danbury and Shelton, who also have announced plans to run or have formed exploratory committees. Former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, a Republican, also is part of the field, while Middletown Democrat Dan Drew dropped out of the race earlier this month.
Stewart and state Sen. Toni Boucher, of Wilton, are the only Republican women considering a run.