National Politics Spotlighted At West Hartford Gubernatorial Forum

Oct 7, 2018

The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford hosted a gubernatorial forum Sunday that featured Republican Bob Stefanowski, Democrat Ned Lamont, and third party candidate Oz Griebel.

The event took place at The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford. Each candidate had 30 minutes to face the crowd, delivering an opening statement and then a question-and-answer session.

Joel Kent of Windsor is a retired police officer and he thinks that the nasty political tone in Washington is starting to make its way into state politics. The forum gave him an opportunity to tell Griebel that he thought his television ads brought the governor’s race into the schoolyard.

“He defended the denigrating ads against the other candidates rather than spending his time telling me what he’s going to do,” Kent said.

Francene Weingast didn’t like the way that judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump and members of the U.S. Senate conducted themselves during Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. She wanted to know if Bob Stefanowski was elected, would he influence national leaders to treat other Americans with respect?

Businessman Bob Stefanowski went after Griebel and delivered a lengthy opening address. After he pitched fiscal discipline and conservative values, he said he could go on for hours and found this type of forum to be "therapeutic."
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

She said that his response didn’t indicate he would.

“Basically, he’s not going to make any efforts to do that,” Weingast said. “He’s laser-focused only on Connecticut and he will personally treat people with respect.”

Felicia Zimmerman said that she’s heard Ned Lamont criticize Stefanowski for representing ‘Trumpian values’ instead of ‘Connecticut values.’ She wanted to know how someone who once belonged to the all-white Greenwich Country Club could speak for the people from the state as whole.

She wasn’t impressed with his answer.

“There was no mention of the word “Greenwich Country Club” and he basically reverted to ‘everyone else but me is Donald Trump,’ Zimmerman said. “Donald Trump didn’t create our problems in Connecticut. Whether you like or hate Donald Trump, he’s not coming here to fix them, so, no, I didn’t get an answer.”

Democrat Ned Lamont spoke last and addressed a variety of topics such as the legalization of marijuana and women's reproductive rights in the wake of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Lamont said after the forum that he hadn’t been a member of the club since he resigned 15 years ago.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford did not endorse a candidate. Instead, it held the forum so that local voters could learn more about where each candidate stood on the issues.

Libertarian Rod Hanscomb and the Amigo Constitution Party’s Mark Stewart Greenstein are on the ballot but weren’t invited.