Connecticut saw significant turnover among its constitutional officers in 2010, when Treasurer Denise Nappier was the only one of the five officers to seek re-election.
Voters are facing a similar scenario eight years later, with only two incumbents, Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, seeking to return to office.
Lembo said he’s running for a third term because the comptroller’s office is an ideal position for someone who likes dealing with numbers.
“It’s nice to have a job that you love, and it is a job that I love,” he said during a visit Wednesday to the Record-Journal for an episode of the “Morning Record.” “The people of Connecticut elected a data nerd into this big data job in 2010, and so I’ve been working really hard on taking the state’s fiscal information and making it more transparent and digestible for people.”
Lembo, a Democrat, is facing Republican nominee Kurt Miller, who is the first selectman of Seymour.
While incumbents typically have an advantage when it comes to name recognition, Lembo said few voters are familiar with the office or the official who occupies it.
“Your ego really gets checked when you go out there” and campaign, Lembo said.
The comptroller’s main responsibilities include overseeing payroll and benefit payments to state employees and purchasing health care for the state’s plan.
The comptroller also monitors the budget, and serves as the arbiter whenever the governor and lawmakers disagree on whether the size of a deficit requires legislative action.
Lembo said the state has made efforts to keep insurance costs in-check by focusing on employee wellness and preventative care.
He said the state has made significant efforts to get state employee pension debt under control, but warns teacher retirement costs — under a different system — are still problematic.
The comptroller also has a seat on the State Bond Commission. Lembo has at times opposed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposals before the commission.
“My job is to be independent — you elected an independent, and I have been independent and I always will be,” he said. “That means sometimes the Republicans are mad at me and sometimes the Democrats are mad at me and sometimes the governor’s mad at me, even if he’s from my own party.”
For more from Lembo, listen to the “Morning Record,” the Record-Journal’s daily podcast, at https://bit.ly/2NXAaxz