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Governor candidates, including independent Griebel, face off

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STORRS — The gloves came off in Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate inside the the Jorgensen Center for the Arts on the UConn Campus in Storrs.

But the debate took on a slightly different tone with the addition of Independent Oz Griebel to the stage.

A familiar scene outside.

“We want Ned!” chanted supporters.

But a new face inside.

“Only an Independent can bring both parties together along with the private sector,” said Independent Candidate Oz Griebel.

Griebel joined Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski on the debate stage.

“One of the things we will do is make that as the chief marketing officer we are talking to the employees who are here today to make sure that the jobs they have here, stay here,” said Griebel.

Lamont tried to use Griebel as an ally.

“Two of us on this stage actually took on Dan Malloy,” said Lamont.

“I have a chance to run against not one but two Republicans,” he added. Griebel didn’t like that.

“There’s one Republican up here. Not two,” he clarified. Stefanowski took issue too. “I have the endorsement of the Independent party of Connecticut,” said Stefanowski.

Stefanowski and Lamont continued their attacks on each other.

“Make no mistake about it. If Ned Lamont becomes governor there are going to be tolls on every mile of I-95,” said Stefanowski.

“Bob is just making it up,” said Lamont.

Then they talked issues like the deficit.

“My first week in office there is going to be a change. This state is on an absolute fiscal cliff. We are going to call a fiscal state of emergency,” declared Stefanowski.

“We don’t need an emergency session. You need someone who is going to have a budget ready to go within four months,” said Lamont.

They also talked about education.

“Costs in this state are out of control. Every university needs to be more designer about how much they spend and we need to use those savings to keep tuition cost down,” said Stefanowski.

Lamont said, “I’m going to tell you students that I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this university is affordable, CCSU and our community colleges are affordable.”

But perhaps the most controversial question — in the rapid fire segment. Would the candidates confirm Judge Cavanaugh to the Supreme Court?

“I’m going to pass on that. That’s a federal issue,” responded Stefanowski.

“I don’t think he should be approved and by the way, governors appoint Supreme Court justices here in this state,” rebutted Lamont.

Third party candidates Rod Handscomb and Mark Stewart Greenstein were not invited.

“We never were contacted. No phone call. No email,” said Handscomb.

But they want voters to know they have other choices.

“I have a third way for almost every big issue here. And people say, we’re stuck on the budget. No we’re not, talk to me,” said Mark Stewart Greenstein, a candidate for Governor from the Amigo Constitution Party.

“As long as you are not infringing upon the rights of others, the government shouldn’t be in the business of telling you how to live your life,” said Libertarian Rod Handscomb.

UConn students told FOX61 they encourage young people to stay off sidelines.

“Everybody complains about taxes and all that stuff but can you really complain if you don’t actually get out there are vote?” asks Freshman and Political Science Major Dylan Espinoza.

The candidates debate next October 18th. With less than six weeks until Election Day, a lot is at stake. Polling is tight. Most polls show Ned Lamont with a small lead but they also show the majority of unaffiliated voters siding with Stefanowski.

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