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GOP candidates support the president, fire on each other in debate

July 24, 2018

FAIRFIELD — The five Republican gubernatorial candidates did see not anything wrong in recent actions of the federal government, but plenty found criticize in their state’s operations and with each other at a debate hosted Hearst Connecticut Media, Sacred Heart and WSHU radio Tuesday.

Mark Boughton, Tim Herbst, Steve Obsitnik, David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski lined up behind President Trump to back his tariffs and tax policy. They rejected the idea that voters want a governor who will be check on Washington - instead it’s the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that needs to be reigned in, they said.

“That’s what this election is about,” said Boughton, the party endorsed candidate and Danbury mayor. “If someone wants to talk about what’s happening in Washington, I’m going to point them right back.”

Stefanowski, a Madison business executive, insisted Connecticut voters just want to hear about their economic plans, not things “we can’t control” in Washington.

“That’s a question on global warming?” he said. “I’m running for governor in Connecticut, I’m not running to run the EPA.”

As he has in other debates, Stefanowski again drew strong criticism from the other candidates for not voting for 16 years and changing his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and back recently.

“Exactly what did you find about Chris Dodd (former Democratic U.S. Senator of Connecticut) appealing when you gave him the maximum amount?” Herbst, former Trumbull first selectman challenged Stefanowski.

Stefanowski did not directly respond to the questions about his past Democratic support, but dismissed Herbst as “desperate.”

“This guy knows he’s last in the polls,” Stefanowski said.

Stefanowski, Stemerman Obsitnik painted Herbst and Boughton as “career politicians.”

“Timmy, I know you’ve never had a real job in your life,” Stefanowski said. “At the same time I was overseas, you raised taxes.”

Stemerman noted that Boughton has run for statewide office twice times previously.

Stefanowski also lashed out against Stemerman, a Greenwich hedge fund mogul, for owning stocks.

“People like you trade in their stocks,” Stefanowski said, and then “live in mansions in Greenwich with thousands of bathrooms.”

“Bob, you may not remember but this is a Republican primary,” Stemerman punched back. “In the Republican party we actually celebrate success.”

The 90-minute debate at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield was attended by 180 people. It will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Tuesday by WSHU on all their frequencies including 91.1 FM and wshu.org.

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