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Stefanowski, Lamont repeat political jabs in second debate

September 18, 2018

NEW HAVEN — The taunting started on the sidewalk late Monday afternoon, took a break during a cocktail-and-appetizer reception, then resumed — on and off the stage — at the historic Shubert Theater in the second candidate debate for governor.

While the pre-event animosity of their supporters did not equal the crescendo of last week’s physical altercations in New London, the second of five televised debates between Bob Stefanowski of Madison and Ned Lamont of Greenwich again revealed little in the realm of public policy.

During an hour-long confrontation before about 1,000 people, sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Realtors and WTNH News 8, Stefanowski continued to try to pin the unpopularity of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy upon Lamont, using his campaign battle cry of promises to lower taxes as a shield against most other questions.

“The choice in this election is becoming crystal clear,” Stefanowski said to a roar from supporters — who were asked to remain quiet. “He’s going to continue eight years of horrible economic policy that got us in this mess. I’ll cut taxes. I’ll make government smaller and more efficient.”

He re-interated his supply-side mantra that tax cuts would pay for themselves.

“Cutting taxes actually raises revenue in the long run,” Stefanowski said.

“I’m the guy who ran against Dan Malloy eight years ago,” Lamont said, warning that his Republican contender would decimate the $20-billion annual budget, sharply reducing revenues, gutting education. “I will not raise the income tax. I will cut the property tax (and) train children for the 21st century jobs.” His own supporters also cheered loudly.

“Talk about pandering to the polls,” Lamont said of Stefanowski’s economic plan. He promised a “strong” University of Connecticut.

“It’s about how do we get this state organized around education,” Stefanowski said, highlighting his public education growing up in North Haven, and at the same time positioning the privately educated Lamont as an elite.

Eliminating the income tax would make the state more competitive, Stefanowski said in what has become his campaign hallmark.

“I think Bob’s tax plan would drive our state into a dead stop,” Lamont rejoined. “I think it’s a false promise.”

Lamont said if elected he would become the first governor in 80 years to have started his own business.

“I will make sure we are rowing in the same direction,” Lamont said when asked how he would cooperate with industry leaders. Stefanowski then revisited a jab made against Lamont during the Democratic primary, charging that he laid off 60 percent of the employees of his Greenwich based-cable TV company.

“You should be not be talking down small business. Look at UBS,” Lamont railed.

Both companies where Stefanowski was an executive failed in the state, including General Electric, which was recently kicked off the Dow Industrial index.

“Three weeks ago he was raising income taxes,” Stefanowski said with a weak grin playing to his supporters, who ignored the request for quiet. “Now he’s a tax cutter. I don’t know about you, but I see higher taxes coming from a mile away.”

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT

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