It’s the time of year when candidates seem to compete to see who can run the most TV ads telling voters as little as possible.

Lately the two major party candidates for Connecticut governor, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Bob Stefanowski, seem to be about tied in ad expenditures or expenditures on their behalf.

They are not by any means the only candidates appearing on state video screens, of course. In Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, Republican challenger Harry Arora, an immigrant and self-made multimillionaire, is using dozens of TV spots as part of his challenge to incumbent Democrat Jim Himes.

Harry Arora, 4th District Republican challenger.

Lamont, a self-funding candidate, apparently has more money to work with than does Stefanowski, who has also pumped millions of his own money into his campaign. (You can check out a lot of campaign finance information on many candidates with this new CTMirror database.) Lamont also seems to have the lead in the polls, especially among women.

Of course the amount of campaign spending has little relation to the qualifications of the candidates, and this year the differences in outlook are making themselves clear every day. Lamont, for example, is promoting women’s issues like paid family leave and a $15 per hour minimum wage, while Stefanowski prefers to emphasize the need to reduce government spending and taxes.

They typically disagree on most issues, but see things pretty much the same when it comes to bailing out the state’s ailing municipalities – as does independent gubernatorial contender Oz Griebel.

Independence from a political party, incidentally, is popular in Connecticut, where the largest portion of registered voters is unaffiliated. A surge in new voter registrations is continuing that trend.

Davon Elfemire, center, talks to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Scott Semple Pool photo by LAUREN SCHNEIDERMAN / Hartford Courant

Another trend — one that concerns health officials — is the dramatic increase in the number of high school students who are vaping, perhaps thinking that their e-cigarette is safe. In any event, the majority of Connecticut health care systems appear to be healthy, having finished the fiscal year in the black.

And in another healthcare industry development, the Department of Justice gave the go-head to pharmacy giant CVS’s acquisition of the Aetna Inc.

In Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump’s views about criminal justice reform seemed to have something in common with what Gov. Dannel Malloy has been advocating for a long time.  Malloy continued pushing that issue in a prison reform conference live-streamed from Cheshire Correctional Institution.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, meanwhile, in an echo of his former capacity as State Attorney General, asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s failure to disclose exposure of some of its data to outside vendors.

Speaking of criminal justice, Shawn Henning and Ralph Birch are asking a court for some reform concerning their conviction on murder charges more than 30 years ago.

Paul has more than 40 years of reporting and editing experience at newspapers in New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut. He worked 22 years at the Hartford Courant in various editing roles including as deputy state editor, assistant editor of Northeast Magazine, and as an associate editor at Courant.com. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. A trained chef, he and his wife own and operate a bed and breakfast in an historic home in Mansfield.

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