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Greenwich’s Blankley makes treasurer run official

March 20, 2018 GMT

GREENWICH — People can stop calling Greenwich resident John Blankley a prospective candidate for state office as he made his run for treasurer official Tuesday.

Blankley, a Democrat, first announced his interest in the office in May when he formed an exploratory committee. He joins a crowded field seeking his party’s nomination to replace retiring Treasurer Denise Nappier, including fellow Greenwich resident Dita Bhargava.

“I’m the only candidate with the right qualifications needed at this time to do this job,” Blankley said, noting his professional history dealing with large corporate budgets, investments and pension obligations, paired with his experience as a small business founder and owner in Connecticut.

In a campaign statement put out Tuesday, Blankley cited the “daunting task” of addressing the state’s budget deficits as well as 50 years of unfunded pension liabilities for state employees.

“The treasurer’s job has two central tasks, overseeing our pension funds and issuing our bonds,” Blankley said. “These are my areas of expertise. Before starting my own business in Shelton 20 years ago, creating dozens of jobs here in Connecticut, I was the Chief Financial Officer of billion dollar businesses. I managed finances on a larger scale than our state’s and I have done so at times of even worse financial crisis. I have directly overseen massive pension funds, and I have issued one of the largest bond offerings in history.”

Blankley said his experience would “help restore a climate of fiscal calm” in the state that could put Connecticut on a path to economic recovery.

“It seems as if my entire life’s journey has been preparing for this job,” Blankley said. “As the son of a coal miner who grew up in tough times, I’ve learned that we must always search for light in the bleakest moments of history. I’ve learned that we must not step forward out of ambition but rather out of a genuine desire to help.”

Blankley, 70, who was born and raised in England, moved his family here in 1983, and became a U.S. citizen in 1997. He was executive vice president and chief financial officer for BP North America and chief financial officer and board member of various shipping companies before starting Flagship Networks Inc., a computer consulting company. He is a former member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

His would be “a voice that would be listened to,” as treasurer, able to influence policy in addition to his role managing pension investment funds, he said.

Blankley was the first candidate to express interest in the office, forming his exploratory committee before Nappier had announced she would not be seeking another term.

Bhargava, a former hedge fund portfolio manager with more than two decades of experience on Wall Street, initially had focused on a potential run for governor as a Democrat but shifted to the treasurer’s race last month and said her campaign is going well so far.

“People are excited to see diverse voices in the Democratic process, and we’re getting a great response across the state,” Bhargava said Tuesday. “Democrats across Connecticut are enthusiastic about a strong, diverse ticket that represents our values and can offer robust counterargument to the dangerous demagoguery of Donald Trump and his policies. It is critical that we keep our state blue, and make sure it’s in good hands in 2018 and beyond.”

In addition to the Greenwich residents, Shawn Wooden, former president of the Hartford City Council, and Arunan Arulampalam, a Harford resident with a background in finance, are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Blankley said Tuesday he “absolutely” will pursue a primary if he does not win the nomination outright but gets at least 15 percent of the party’s support at its convention on May 18 and 19.

Bhargava also indicated a willingness to primary if necessary. A primary vote would take place on Aug. 14.

“Dita is committed to serving the state and plans to do so through the primary,” campaign spokesman Francesca Capodilupo said.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Art Linares, who represents the 33rd district, which covers Middlesex and New London, and Salisbury resident Thad Grey, who has a background in finance and investment, are seeking the GOP nomination.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com