Tech entrepreneur hits gubernatorial campaign trail in RVPosted: Updated:
A Westport tech entrepreneur has an outside shot in this year's gubernatorial race with a quirky campaign and an emphasis on production.
Steve Obsitnik's mode of campaign travel involves a recreational vehicle that he's inviting voters to sign.
He says it shows he's not a career politician.
"Other people running, they collect money. They're either mayor -- they collect your taxes -- or they're investors, and they collect their investment fees," he says. "I build things for a living."
In fact, he made his career in technology and often reminds people he helped create the iPhone's Siri feature almost 20 years ago.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton already won the Republican Party's endorsement, but Obsitnik snagged a surprising 25 percent of the vote at the state convention last month.
"Steve Obsitnik could be the surprise in this whole process," says Sacred Heart University political analyst Dr. Gary Rose.
Rose says Obsitnik isn't too dissimilar from other Republicans -- he's against highway tolls and for lower taxes but also wants to create high-tech "knowledge corridors" that link the state's struggling cities with universities.
"He's really a grand thinker, and when you have people like Boughton and (former Trumbull First Selectman Tim) Herbst who have held public office, they're really like the 'nuts and bolts' type people -- you know, policy wonks."
That's why Obsitnik still thinks he's got a shot despite the stacked odds.
"The odds were against me when I applied to the Naval Academy," he says. "The odds were against me when I tried to start three businesses. So I'm fine with the odds against me."
Another Republican, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, announced Tuesday evening that his campaign did not come up with the number of signatures needed to get on the primary ballot.
On the Democratic side of the ballot, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim says his campaign collected more than double of the required 15,000 signatures to secure a place on the primary ballot. Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont is the part's endorsed candidate.
Voters have the final say over which candidate will go on to the November general election in a primary vote on Aug. 14.
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