The gubernatorial campaign of Republican Bob Stefanowski declined an invitation Monday to the first debate of the general-election campaign: A forum on Connecticut’s economy at the University of St. Joseph that was to be broadcast on television by Fox61 and radio by WNPR on Sept. 5.
Patrick Trueman, the manager of Stefanowski’s campaign, said the Wednesday after Labor Day was too early for a debate, but Stefanowski is willing to debate four other times, beginning Sept. 12 in a New London at a forum to be televised by WTNH, Channel 8.
The first debate between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his Republican challenger, Tom Foley, in the 2014 race was exactly four years ago, on Aug. 27 in Norwich. Malloy and Foley debated six times that year, the last time on the Sunday before Election Day.
The debate at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford was sponsored by the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges with three media partners — Fox, Connecticut Public Radio and CT Mirror.
Democrat Ned Lamont had accepted the invitation last week and turned it into a challenge of Stefanowski.
“The people of Connecticut deserve straight answers from Bob Stefanowski on how he plans to fire thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers through a dishonest and irresponsible tax plan,” Lamont said, referring to the GOP nominee’s proposal to phase out Connecticut’s income tax over the next eight years.
Lamont had declined an invitation from the colleges to a Democratic primary debate at the University of New Haven in August, while Stefanowski and the rest of the five-candidate GOP field accepted an invitation to a debate at Fairfield University.
“Over the past few months I have appreciated the opportunity to share my plans to lower taxes, spur economic growth and help Connecticut recover from the disastrous policies of Governor Malloy, and I look forward to continuing to share that message with voters all across the state,” Stefanowski said in an emailed statement.
Stefanowski’s campaign said he had accepted invitations to four debates: Sept. 12, in New London at a forum co-sponsored by The Day of New London; Sept. 26, at the University of Connecticut, to be broadcast by WFSB, Channel 3; Oct. 18, at a Connecticut Broadcasters Association forum available for broadcast by its members; and Oct. 30, at a Connecticut Conference of Municipalities event, to be broadcast by WTNH.