The sparks could have really flown at today’s five-way gubernatorial debate in Stamford.
Just a few days ago Republicans Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel were criticizing Tom Foley, the GOP nominee they hope to beat in August’s primary, for a Hartford Courant story about the Greenwich businessman’s/millionaire’s two prior arrests for motor-vehicle related incidents.
Fedele issued a statement Friday calling the charges against Foley “very serious” and calling on his opponent “to come clean” and fully explain the incidents to voters.
“The first test for any candidate for governor is to be forthright and honest with the people,” Fedele said in a statement.
And Griebel in his own statement said the report revealed “very real and serious concerns about Tom Foley’s judgement, temperament and the significant personal baggage he brings to the race.”
On the Democratic side, Ned Lamont of Greenwich has begun questioning Democratic nominee Dannel Malloy’s campaign claims he created 5,000 jobs as mayor of Stamford. Lamont’s campaign on Monday said Malloy should pull a television ad about job creation.
Malloy in turn charged Lamont, a cable executive, “laid off most of his workforce while paying himself hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
None of this came up during today’s debate, during which five panelists, including my boss at The Advocate, each posed one question to one candidate which was then also answered by the other four candidates.
I had hoped someone would ask either Fedele or Griebel why they believe voters should care about Foley’s arrests, which are several years old and were not prosecuted. That would have put them on the spot, Foley on the spot and also forced Lamont and Malloy – who have steered clear of the issue – to weigh in.
Barring the topic being raised by the panelists, I figured since Fedele and Griebel felt strongly enough about the matter on Friday, they might raise the topic themselves and confront Foley directly. Lord knows all five candidates strayed off topic and worked various talking points into their answers. But that wasn’t the case. Fedele said the next governor must have “character” but he might have said that regardless of the Foley issue.
Perhaps more inexcusable is that fact that, despite fielding a question about job creation and spending much of the debate discussing that topic and the economy in general, neither Malloy nor Lamont challenged the other’s record on job creation.
More than one candidate told the audience the state needs a leader with courage. It would be nice if they displayed a bit of that courage during these face-offs rather than leaving the dirty work to their campaigns.