The debate among the three candidates for the Republican nomination for governor was a fairly timid affair that resulted in economic development professional Oz Griebel standing out as the man with the most (or any) experience dealing with the issues facing the state.

Given the nasty back and forth in recent weeks between frontrunner Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele, viewers (at least this one) may have been expecting to see them drop the gloves. Turns out Foley and Fedele are much tougher in news releases and statements through their campaigns than they are standing next to each other.

Griebel was the only one of the three who was able to cite his experience—as president of Bank of Boston, head of the Hartford Metro-Alliance and chairman of the state Transportation Strategy Board. He invoked that experience when talking about reducing the cost of government, retaining highly educated graduates and integrating transportation options. Griebel clearly needs to broaden his appeal beyond the Hartford region if he is to make a move in the race. Griebel was also the only candidate not to have a campaign ad air during the break.

Fedele was put in the awkward situation of indirectly criticizing his boss, Gov. Rell, on areas such as the state budget. He said he would have vetoed some of the budgets Rell signed. He didn’t claim, however, to have lobbied Rell to do just that if he felt so strongly about it. Fedele also strayed into Cliché-ville, actually saying, “I believe our children are our future” when talking about education and, “The only constant in life is change” when talking about funding state employee salaries and pensions. (The Shad felt bad because I was wearing my “I Believe Grandparents Are the Future” t-shirt while watching the debate).

Foley avoided any major gaffes but seemed almost robotic. He did, however, seem genuinely hurt when talking about the recent comments made by the other two about his past arrests. He said he never expected it from members of his own party.

See more coverage of the debate.