In a debate in New Haven Thursday night, the two candidates contesting the Connecticut Democratic Party primary for governor sparred over who would best represent the Connecticut voter. The debate was sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Realtors.
For several weeks Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim has been making the argument that his primary opponent and presumed frontrunner, Greenwich cable company owner Ned Lamont, is out of touch with the average Connecticut voter because of his wealth. To illustrate this Ganim has alleged that Lamont lives in a Greenwich mansion with eight bathrooms. That prompted Lamont to make this argument in the debate, claiming that his upbringing was not much different from Ganim’s.
“We had successful parents. We got to go to suburban schools. We had a good education. And then our paths took very different directions. But what’s most important is that everybody get that opportunity that Joe and I got. That means a good education. That means early childhood education. That means after school. That means expanding our community college so people are trained for the jobs. It’s not a question of who has how much, it’s a question of how you lift everybody up and give them that opportunity.”
Ganim was not deterred. He doubled down on his argument.
“I was blessed to grow up in a great home. But I can tell you this, we had eight children in our family but we never had eight bathrooms…Thank you, sir.”
Ganim said having spent seven years in federal prison for public corruption after his first time as Bridgeport mayor in the 1990s has made him a more empathetic public servant. Ganim seems to have decided to use this as a wedge because he and Lamont differ little on public policy. Both men want more state spending on public education and investment in Connecticut’s cities and transportation infrastructure as the way to revitalize the state’s economy. They both also pledged not to break state employee union contracts but instead to work with the unions on concessions. And they are both in support of tougher gun regulations. The candidates are expected to have several more debates before the August 14th primary.