Vote 2022: Final debate for governor features clashes over abortion, Bristol police ambush
The final debate for governor Tuesday night featured heated exchanges over a deadly ambush on two Bristol police officers, as well as inflation and abortion.
The match-up at Mohegan Sun Resort was only the second televised debate. It featured Gov. Ned Lamont, Republican Bob Stefanowski and Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling.
The first clash came over inflation. Lamont painted a rosy picture of Connecticut’s economy – in spite of soaring prices globally.
"Right now, we've created tens of thousands of jobs -- tens of thousands of jobs ready to be filled by Connecticut folks,” he said.
Lamont lowered taxes this year, but Stefanowski said he should have cut deeper – especially with record budget surpluses. Lamont said the state needs to protect its “Rainy Day Fund” to avoid tax hikes in a recession.
Despite Stefanowski’s criticism, Lamont leads by double digits in three recent polls. Voters listed the economy as their top concern.
"I think the governor is living in a different state than Rob and I are,” he said.
Last month's deadly police ambush led to a testy clash over crime.
"Your police accountability bill has created a sense of leniency and corruption in the state of Connecticut, and you need to be held accountable for it,” Stefanowski told the governor.
Lamont accused his GOP opponent of “the cheapest grandstanding ever.”
Lamont said, "That was a madman who was drunk with an AR-15-style assault weapon. That's what happened there. Get those AR-15-style assault weapons off the street if you really want to be serious about crime."
On abortion, Stefanowski once again had to explain a controversial comment he made during a televised forum last week.
"I think abortion should be limited to the first trimester,” Stefanowski said on WFSB-TV.
The next day, Stefanowski said he "misspoke.” Tuesday night, Lamont suggested the statement was more than a slip of the tongue.
"Sometimes when people misspeak, you really realize what they're thinking,” he said.
Stefanowski replied, "I support a woman's right to choose. It is not -- it is not going to change as long as I'm governor. Period, end of story."
Hotaling, who is polling at just 1%, offered himself as an alternative.
"The fate of this election is in the hands of the independents. Forty-one percent of all voters in Connecticut are independents,” he said. “I'm the Independent candidate for governor."
The debate comes just week before Election Day, and many people have already voted. As of Monday, the secretary of the state reported 75,000 absentee ballots cast. During the last gubernatorial contest in 2018, a total of 88,000 voters cast their ballots by mail.
"I will be voting for Bob Stefanowski for governor,” said Jared Lowenstein of Norwalk. “I just like his position on crime and I think Connecticut deserves a change."
But Abid Rajput, of Stratford, is voting for Lamont.
"He did a lot of work for education and I think mostly in transportation, he did good,” Rajput said.
Some voters say they’re not planning on supporting any candidate.
"I see, like, ads for them and stuff, but I don't ever, like, look into it because, honestly, I don't care,” said Mo Eldesouky, of Norwalk.
Tuesday was the deadline to register to vote in advance. You can also register on Election Day, but you will have to do it in person.