Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Ned Lamont’s decision to avoid any more televised debates with rival Dan Malloy has gotten so much attention and elicited so many opinions, the smart move now would be for Lamont to change his mind and engage Malloy in at least one more debate. WFSB-TV, CPTV , CT-N and WNPR radio have partnered to offer the two candidates a chance to stand side-by-side on August 3rd and let the voters see the contrasts for themselves. Lamont said no. Here are the reasons he should change his mind.
1. The conventional wisdom that a frontrunner who does not excel in debates should simply sit on his lead no longer applies here. The latest Quinnipiac University poll showed Lamont with a shaky nine-point lead among likely primary voters. This is important because there is very likely a primary on Aug. 10th. Lamont’s lead is simply not big enough to try to run out the clock.
2. So much has been made of Lamont dodging debates because he got crushed in the only other televised debate that expectations couldn’t be lower. Short of calling for a National Guard invasion of Rhode Island or promising to hold a “John Rowland Day” in the state, there’s not much he could say that could hurt him because the bar is so low.
3. Getting beat in a debate is much better than giving your opponent a free hour of TV and radio time and certainly better than having an empty podium/chair on the stage. WFSB-TV has not yet decided whether they will arrange the stage as such but it is certainly possible.
4. People are seeing right through Lamont’s claim that he has debated Malloy about 30 times (first it was 25 times). Everyone knows the two have appeared side-by-side for only one televised debate. It’s insulting to claim otherwise.
5. Changing his mind might actually be viewed as somewhat courageous and could leave the impression that as governor, when things get uncomfortable, Lamont will step up.
6. If Lamont does prevail in the primary, don’t think for a second the Republican nominee won’t use this debate dodge to its full potential. Changing his mind and debating takes an issue away from Republicans.
Think about it, Ned.