The third televised debate in the race to be the next governor of Connecticut brought little new to the table—Malloy was once again sharp, passionate and prepared while Foley still couldn’t back up his comments and accusations.
The forum was held on the campus of Fairfield University and was sponsored and broadcast by WFSB-TV (Channel 3) and CPTV / WNPR. Panelists Dennis House of Channel 3 and John Dankosky of WNPR (two of the best in the state) had the unenviable task of trying to break some new ground after a long, nasty campaign that has exactly two weeks left to go.
On the question of the state budget deficit, Malloy blamed past Republican governors and Foley blamed past and current Democratic-controlled legislatures. No surprise there. Nor was there anything new on how to fix the problem. Foley said he can fill the $3.4 billion hole without new taxes but rather by paring down the state workforce by attrition and privatizing state services—both target state employees. Malloy again said he would cut spending, reduce waste and institute Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
The overriding theme of the debate though, was that Foley simply couldn’t back up what he said. On the issue of health care, Foley again contended he wouldn’t take away health care benefits from people who have them now. But as Malloy pointed out, Foley’s own “core benefits” plan would allow companies that spend an undetermined percentage of their payroll on health care to be exempt from state mandates. State mandates include coverage for things like prostate cancer screening, mammograms, prenatal care and hearing aids for children. This isn’t a case of manipulating statistics. It’s in black and white, in his plan.
Then there was Foley’s bizarre accusation that Stamford’s fire chief retired with a yearly pension of more than $200,000 because the chief piled up overtime in his last years. When Malloy said he was dumbfounded, noting the fire chief he appointed was still on the job, Foley never mentioned it again.
Foley also said Stamford had the biggest education achievement gap in the state. Malloy’s campaign immediately recalled in an email a quote from Stamford School Superintendent Josh Starr the first time Foley made the charge. “It’s a bizarre statement that’s not based on any data. Foley is spreading lies about the Stamford schools. It’s hogwash,” he said.
Amazingly, it was Foley who asked Malloy to apologize for untruths. A good defense is a good offense, one guesses.