The Candidate Oz Griebel - the independent

Almost everyone who knows agrees: Politicians, campaign operatives, the news media. In 2018 - of the three major candidates running for governor of Connecticut, Oz Griebel had the deepest knowledge of public policy. But he lost by a wide margin, winning only 4% of the vote in a year that saw high voter turnout in reaction to general disgust with the federal government as led by President Donald Trump.

During the October debate season Griebel had the strongest command of the issues, was the most articulate in explaining the challenges, had the most detail regarding possible solutions, and was the most honest when describing the difficulty of the path forward. The state's largest newspaper endorsed his candidacy in the final days of the campaign.

Griebel began his run for governor with several disadvantages he imposed on himself. He chose to run as an independent. On principle - he refused to take part in Connecticut's public financing system. And he had long been on record as supporting the re-introduction of tolls to Connecticut highways, a policy move Republican candidates attack as raising taxes.

Griebel talking to students at the University of Hartford in the spring of 2018.

Griebel ran any way, because after years of partisan gridlock at the Connecticut capitol he believed voters were ready for a third way. Public and private polls showed his sense of the public mood was correct. Voters are not concerned about party labels, they just want the job to get done and they have little faith the constant squabbling between Democrats and Republicans will ever produce results.

Griebel had always been a Republican, but for this campaign he registered as unaffiliated. He chose as his running mate, Democratic lawyer Monte Frank, who became well-known after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School for his work in the area of gun violence prevention. Frank also listed himself as unaffiliated for this campaign. The pairing of two pragmatists was meant to show the voters that this was the real deal. Two guys concerned only about doing the work and making decisions based on the merits.

Young voters responded to Griebel's message, but would they vote?

But as Griebel and Frank learned, those who give money to campaigns, campaign consultants, and the news media are vested in the two-party way. Funders only back candidates they think are a sure bet. Consultants won't burn bridges with allies in the major parties. The news media will not give even qualified third-party candidates a fair hearing. The concept is too outside established norms to be seriously considered by the forces with the power to declare someone like Griebel a contender.

Griebel with running mate Monte Frank campaigning in Fairfield County, near New York City.

One month after the election, the only regrets Griebel has are about campaign tactics. The reason for running was solid and still is. He hopes others will pick up where he left off and challenge the two-parties in the next round of local and state elections.

Griebel hopes others see him as the first candidate over the wall of the two-party system. The origin of a movement that will eventually prevail.

In college he played on the baseball team at Dartmouth and later he played a season in the minor leagues. He is an athlete and he ran his campaign like an athlete. Playing hard until the last out of the last inning and accepting the results. The point is - he played.


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© Dean Pagani 2018


@ Dean Pagani 2019 - This Decisive Moment

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