The two major party candidates for Connecticut governor clashed over their plans to close the state’s budget deficit, criminal justice and other issues Wednesday in a debate that also included acrimonious attacks on each other’s business records.
Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski, each with little to no elective experience, squared off at the Garde Arts Center in New London.
At several times Lamont linked Stefanowski to President Donald Trump, whose endorsement of the former executive for companies including General Electric and UBS Investment Bank cuts both ways in left-leaning Connecticut. Stefanowski, in turn, took every opportunity to paint Lamont as a “clone” of the unpopular Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election for a third term.
“We need to do the exact opposite of what Dan Malloy has been doing for eight years and Ned Lamont will just continue it,” Stefanowksi said.
Stefanowski, who has called for eliminating the state income tax, said he would approach the state’s deficit as he did the UBS budget as an executive, pledging to trim at least 5 percent from the annual budget by eliminating fraud, waste and abuse.
Lamont said Stefanowski’s approach was irresponsible, arguing that his rival failed to offer any specifics and could not get rid of parts of state government as you might sell off a losing division of a business.
“That is just the type of political answer that has gotten the state in trouble over the last generation,” said Lamont, who declared himself the candidate of fiscal discipline.