Eight Republican candidates for governor debated on live television Thursday night. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
It was an odd way to begin what would be an odd debate.
After reminding viewers that a Quinnipiac University poll showed that half of Republican voters don’t know who they’d choose for governor, debate moderator Gerry Brooks introduced the candidates – and gave them a warning.
“There will be no rebuttals unless one candidate attacks another. Attacks must be verbal.”
In fact, there were no such attacks at the debate sponsored by NBC Connecticut. Instead, the candidates running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination did their best to answer questions on issues like binding arbitration, the state’s business climate, the death penalty, urban development, and the state’s budget. Most of their answers were limited to a minute.
Several candidates, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, took aim at the Democratic legislature.
“You can’t give the legislature any more money. They’re kind of like the movie Gremlins. If you feed them after midnight and give them water after midnight, they will multiply with bad ideas and bad public policy.”
Almost all of the candidates said the state’s biggest problem is a spending problem. Former Congressman and University of New Haven President Larry DeNardis put a point on it.
“I would cut every department, every agency, every board, every commission, every council, eliminating some along the way.”
A Quinnipiac University poll released this week shows that while former Ambassador Tom Foley leads the primary with 30 percent of the vote, 50 percent of Republican voters are still undecided.
Democratic candidates for governor will debate tonight at 7 p.m.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.