Timothy Herbst and Robert Eick both say the average taxpayer probably doesn’t know exactly what the state treasurer does.
They want to change that.
And they also both want to become the next state treasurer.
Herbst, 33, and Eick, 51, are battling for the Republican nomination to run against longtime Democratic incumbent Denise L. Nappier, who has won four consecutive election victories dating back to 1998. Nappier stands as the longest-serving of the state’s constitutional officers.
Neither Herbst nor Eick has an immediately recognizable political name because neither of them has held statewide office. Herbst serves as the three-term first selectman in Trumbull, a Fairfield County suburb with a population of about 36,000, while Eick is a longtime investment executive and movie investor who has never held public office.
Former fashion executive Jack C. Orchulli, a Republican who lost the U.S. Senate race in 2004 against incumbent Democrat Christopher J. Dodd, recently dropped out of the treasurer’s race after saying he had difficulty raising money under the state’s public financing system.
The Republicans have not won the treasurer’s race since 1994, when Christopher B. Burnham emerged victorious. It was a big year for Republicans nationally and in Connecticut when they won the governor’s office and captured the majority in the state Senate.
State Republican chairman Jerry Labriola said Nappier’s record has prompted multiple candidates to seek the office, despite Orchulli’s recent departure.
“Thanks to over a decade of Denise Nappier’s mishandling of our state’s finances, our credit rating has been downgraded repeatedly and our state’s pension fund is on the brink of insolvency,” said Labriola.
Nappier declined several requests for comment.
With one of the best years on Wall Street in 2013, the state pension fund grew by nearly $3 billion in a single year to $28.2 billion at the end of last year. The fund, which provides pensions for legislators, judges, teachers, and state employees, was about $17.5 billion when Nappier was running for the job in late 1998.
In the ongoing battle for delegates, Herbst has strength among fellow first selectmen and mayors, including an endorsement by Erin Stewart, the mayor of New Britain who is viewed by supporters as a rising star in the Republican Party. He is also being backed by Republican insiders that include Newtown first selectman Pat Llodra, Stratford mayor John Harkins, and former Torrington mayor Ryan Bingham. The mayors all have ties to the delegates who will be choosing the party’s candidate at the state convention on May 17.
Eick’s best-known volunteer is former state GOP chairman and former New Haven legislator Chris DePino, who introduced Eick around the Capitol on opening day this year. Continue reading