The two major party nominees for governor of Connecticut used their first televised debate Wednesday night to try and define each other to voters. The debate took place at the Garde Arts Center in New London.
Republican Bob Stefanowski and Democrat Ned Lamont clashed over several issues, including taxes, criminal justice reform, immigration and the legalization of marijuana. On the issue of how to handle the problem of homes with crumbling foundations in northeastern Connecticut, Stefanowski said the state needs a better relationship with the federal government.
“And it just shows the value of having a governor who has some sort of relationship with Washington. I think we need to size it up. We need to determine how big the situation is and then we need to help the homeowners who have been damaged by this horrible activity.”
That prompted this response from Lamont.
“Well, there is no question that you have a very close relationship with Donald Trump and vice versa… And the headlines said after Bob visited the folks with crumbling foundations, you know, Bob to the crumbling foundation folks: drop dead.”
Lamont was reinforcing an accusation he has been making in his attack ads.
For his part, Stefanowski claimed Lamont would be no different from unpopular outgoing Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy.
“Ned, why do you think continuing the failed economic policies of Dan Malloy over the last eight years are the right thing to do? You sound like a clone of Dan Malloy.”
Lamont responded by criticizing Stefanowski for proposing to get rid of the state income tax over eight years.
“You got a tax plan that would create a $10 billion hole in our budget. A budget hole that would be so big, not even your payday lender would be able to bail us out.”
Stefanowski is a former GE and UBS Bank executive who used to run Dollar Financial Group, a payday lender with operations in Britain and Canada. Lamont is also a businessman. He owns a cable company. Neither Lamont nor Stefanowski has been elected to statewide office.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Democrat Ned Lamont never held elected office. Lamont was elected to both the Greenwich Board of Selectman and Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. Lamont has never been elected to statewide office.