Election 2018 Bermudez Zimmerman attacks, Bysiewicz defends in debate
An aggressive Eva Bermudez Zimmerman attacked Susan Bysiewicz’s history of repeatedly running for elected office and her legislative voting record during a televised debate for Democratic lieutenant governor candidates Thursday night.
“We can’t expect (to elect) the same kind of leaders and have different kinds of results,” said Bermudez Zimmerman, a 31-year-old Latina union organizer. “I don’t have the kind of past that Susan has. Right now, we are in a crossroads ... that crossroads means we need different kinds of leaders, leaders that are champions, leaders that are not cowards and that are ready to keep their financial promises.”
Bysiewicz, the party’s endorsed candidate, defended her record against Bermudez Zimmerman’s ongoing barrage, but appeared to only once directly criticize her opponent.
“I am not seeing a record of accomplishment by my opponent,” Bysiewicz said.
Bysiewicz, 56, tried to dismiss Bermudez Zimmerman’s characterization of her as a perennial candidate who would perpetuate the “status quo” by portraying herself as experienced.
“I’m ready to go day one,” she said.
Bysiewicz represented Middletown, where she grew up on a potato farm, in the state Legislature from 1993 to 1999. Serving as secretary of the state from 1999 to 2011, Bysiewicz said she trimmed the agency’s staff while making operations more efficient, driving revenue to the state. She made the elections so safe Russians could not have hacked them, she claimed. She also spoke of her work as a private sector business lawyer, helping companies create jobs.
Meanwhile, Bermudez Zimmerman reminded viewers of the debate, hosted by NBC Connecticut in its West Hartford studios, of the many titles Bysiewicz has sought since leaving state government in 2011.
She ran for attorney general in 2010, but was disqualified from the race because she lacked 10 years of active experience practicing law. She ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, but lost in a primary. She was running for governor this year, before agreeing to be the running mate of Democratic-gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont.
“While Susan has been running over and over again, I have been on the ground, making sure people are represented,” said Bermudez Zimmerman.
Bermudez Zimmerman would be the first Latina elected to statewide office, if she can win the primary and the general election. She has never been elected to office, but did serve the Newtown Legislative Council. She unsucessfully ran for state representative and resoundingly lost. But she said she has learned how to represent people through her union work, particularly in the area of health care.
Bermudez Zimmerman tried to pin Connecticut’s spiraling pension liabilities on Bysiewicz by saying Bysiewicz voted against fully funding Connecticut’s pension fund as a state lawmaker.
“She is asking people to trust her,” Bermudez Zimmerman said. “How are we going to be able to do that when she deferred the payments?”
Bysiewicz responded, “I have a very strong record of leadership.”
Bermudez Zimmerman’s youth was highlighted when questioned about her Congressional work on the U.S. stimulus package in 2009, she described how she had been an intern to former U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York.
But she repeatedly said she is the “change” that voters are looking for, someone who can represent “everyone.” She spoke of herself as a “coalition-builder,” whereas Bysiewicz called herself a “consensus-builder.”