Gubernatorial candidates square off in debate before election

MASHANTUCKET — The stakes couldn’t have been any higher in Tuesday’s final televised gubernatorial debate before Election Day.

The candidates sparred on issues like police community relations, helping the less fortunate and if they would support physician assisted suicide.

There were the usual jabs, but no knock out punch. This debate covered topics the previous ones didn’t, even offering the chance for candidates to talk humanity instead of policy.

We saw the personal side of our candidates for governor with a question on physician assisted suicide.

Democrat Ned Lamont talked about his parents.

“I loved them to death I was with them every chance I could. But I think they knew when they were ready to go,” said Lamont.

Republican Bob Stefanowski talked about his mother.

“The last two years she had dementia. I talked to my dad about it and he said for better or for worse I want your mother home.”

The candidates had some interesting thoughts on elections when asked if they would push for early voting laws.

“Why do we vote on Tuesday’s? Why isn’t a vote on a weekend Saturday or Sunday?” asked Oz Griebel.

“The nuttiest thing is having primaries in August when it is so tough to get more people to vote,” said Lamont.

“I think early voting properly verified makes a ton of sense,” said Stefanowski.

Then it was back to policy on topics like the budget deficit.

“We would use the rainy day fund. If this isn’t raining now financially, I don’t know what rain looks like,” said Oz Griebel.

“We would look at deferring payments to the teachers retirement fund and state employees fund for two years.”

Lamont responded to Griebel saying, “And by the way it’s illegal not to make contributions to the teacher pension fund under the bond covenant.”

We also heard more about Stefanowski’s position on guns.

“To focus just on guns as the sole problem; it’s not the sole problem,” said Stefanowski. “We need to start limiting access to schools. We need to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. It’s largely a mental health issue. We are probably at the point where we need to train not teachers but personnel up to the different schools to protect our kids.”

“Guns do matter. AR 15s of our streets do matter,” said Lamont.

After the debate, Griebel told us his own poll numbers are better than 7 percent.

“We move steadily toward 20 percent on this.”

Lamont was happy he got to show a more personal side.

“For the first time you got a sense of who we are as people.”

While Stefanowski is counting on momentum.

“I think we’re right where we want to be. The best thing to me is every time a poll comes out we are better. We’ve got momentum.”

As for the candidates favorite politician, it was Abraham Lincoln for Griebel, Bobby Kennedy for Lamont and Ronald Reagan for Stefanowski.

It’s fitting this debate was held at Foxwoods because with seven days left, it’s a crap shoot who will win. Oz Griebel was asked what he would say to those who tell him to drop out.

He said he would tell them to “drop dead.”