REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR MIX IT UP IN DEBATE

If Lieutenant Governor Mike Fedele was hoping for a last minute boost in the form of an endorsement from Gov. Rell, he can forget about it now for sure. (Fedele told the press when he first announced he was running that Rell told him privately that she would eventually endorse him). Nor does it appear that such an endorsement would even be helpful.

Fedele came under fire from both frontrunner Tom Foley and economic development official Oz Griebel for the fact that Rell went along with budgets that raised taxes, used one-shot revenue and borrowing to balance. Fedele had to distance himself from his boss, saying he would have vetoed such budgets. But his two rivals made it clear Fedele was at least somewhat accountable for the budgets.

Financing of campaigns also was a point of contention among the three, again with Fedele on defensive being the only candidate of the three to participate in the state’s public financing program. Foley pointed out, in essence, that Fedele is rich and doesn’t need “taxpayers’ money” to run.

One way or another public employee unions won’t be happy with any of the three becoming governor. They all made it clear that they will seek major concessions from labor. Griebel called for fiscal restraint, saying the state can no longer afford lucrative pensions for state employees. Instead, he favors placing new employees in a 401 (k) – style plan that is common in the private sector, which would generally be less expensive to the state than a traditional pension plan.