Luke Bronin’s very good day: Dan Drew drops out, Aetna staying in Hartford

Photo: John Woike/Hartford Courant/TNS via Getty Images

 

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin got a double dose of good news today that could be a major boon to his gubernatorial candidacy.

One of Bronin’s most high-profile rivals for the Democratic nomination, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew, announced today he is dropping out of the race for governor.

But even better news for Bronin is that health insurance giant Aetna is abandoning its plans to leave Bronin’s city, where it has been headquartered for over 150 years. CVS Health announced today it will not relocate Aetna’s Hartford headquarters to New York City, following a meeting yesterday between Bronin and the company’s CEO.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew was one of three Connecticut mayors seeking the Democratic nomination in 2018 alongside Bronin and Stamford Mayor Joe Ganim, who spent years in federal prison on corruption charges from his first stint as mayor.

Drew was one of the first candidates to jump into the Democratic race, and got some early traction thanks to his progressive stances on issues such as a $15 minimum wage and legalizing recreational marijuana. But now Drew is suspending his run for governor due to financial difficulties that left his campaign in debt.

“Other campaigns are on their way, and we look forward to supporting the Democratic team,” Drew said in an email to supporters.

Drew’s exit leaves Bronin and Ganim as the two highest-profile candidates in the race at this time.

As for the big health care news, Aetna announced last summer it would be moving 250 employees from Hartford to New York City, where it would invest $85 million in new headquarters. The company was set to receive a $9.6 million incentive package from the city — but that package was cancelled unexpectedly on Wednesday, calling the future of Aetna’s move into question.

Yesterday, Bronin met with the CVS Health chief executive Larry Merlo at city hall to discuss Aetna’s future in the state.

“I shared my view of the Hartford region, its tremendous talent pool, depth of experience in insurance, that this the perfect place for them to keep and grow the center of their insurance operations,” Bronin told The Hartford Courant.

Now not only will Aetna stay in Hartford, the city will also be the future location of the company’s new “center of excellence for the insurance business,” according to a CVS spokesman.

With CVS Health headquartered in neighboring Rhode Island, Aetna — or at least its new “center of excellence” — could easily have ended up there.

How much Bronin really had to do with the decision by CVS to keep Aetna in his city is not yet clear. But expect the deal to be a major talking point from Bronin, who is campaigning on the notion that his work on Hartford’s fiscal crisis qualifies him to take on Connecticut’s larger economic crisis.

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