GOP 5th District Congressional Debate Breaks Little New Ground

The Republican candidates’ debate for Connecticut’s fifth congressional district started slowly and got even slower. War veteran Justin Bernier, former FBI agent Mike Clark, businessman Mark Greenberg, state Senator Andrew Roraback and businesswoman Lisa Wilson Foley stoically gave their answers to a broad array of questions in the debate hosted by the Torrington Register Citizen newspaper. None of the five gave voting Republicans a reason to get fired up about their candidacy.

On the issue of taxes, Greenberg, Wilson-Foley and Clark said they would not support raising taxes. Bernier went a bit off the talking point by saying “all policy options should be on the table.” Roraback broke from the pack on this topic saying he would support a plan in which for every $100 in spending cuts, there would be $1 or $1.50 in new revenue concluding, “I won’t close the door on new revenue.” That’s certainly a courageous and risky statement among that crowd.

Other takeaways from the debate:

• They should have provided a gigantic chair for the elephant in the room. Not one mention of the scandal involving former Gov. Rowland. The blame for that goes to the questioners. Let’s step out of the box and clear-up this controversy.

• Roraback seemed to have the best understanding of the issues. He clearly wants to portray himself as a moderate, describing himself as a “Connecticut Republican,” and then “A New England Republican.” That means, “I’m not a party-line, fringe conservative.”

• Some characterizations were overused. Ok, Mr. Clark. We get it. You were in the FBI and now somehow run Farmington. Mr. Bernier, we know you served in Afghanistan and admire you for it. Mr. Greenberg, you love JFK and you’re a successful businessman, we caught on. For Mr. Roraback, see previous entry.
All in all a bit of a snoozer but it was destined to be so with the no-rebuttal format. And for those who couldn’t be on-site, the live stream—audio and visual was horrible.