Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was amongst the many politicians and supporters to attend a pro-choice brunch in Hartford Sunday with little more than 24-hours to go before his first debate as a candidate for U.S. Senate.
“I’m looking forward to an open and enlightening time,“ Blumenthal said. “It’s another step in the Democratic process.“
The camera-friendly Blumenthal, who stepped into the race the day U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd announced his retirement, will join his Democratic opponent Merrick Alpert Monday night for a televised-debate at the University of Hartford.
While some have wondered why Blumenthal would agree to debate the lesser-known Alpert, Blumenthal said he’s taking his Democratic opponent seriously.
“Anyone has the right to run,” he said before dashing off to shake more hands.
While Blumenthal has greater name recognition, those who know Alpert know he’s no slouch when it comes to talking about the issues.
Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, whose running for governor, said he‘s a Blumenthal supporter, but “Merrick makes a nice presentation.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ned Lamont, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2006 said he’s also a Blumenthal supporter.
The underdog in the 2006 senate race who took on U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and succeeded at beating him in the Democratic primary said the difference between this year’s race and the race in 2006 is the issues.
“When I took on Senator Lieberman the issues are what divided us,” Lamont said. “I don’t know what the issues are that divide them.”
Alpert, who entered the race thinking he would be challenging Dodd in November, said in a phone interview Sunday that he will take the opportunity Monday to point out the differences between him and Blumenthal.
“The overview is that we have two fundamentally different views of government,” Alpert said. “He’s a career politicians and incrementalist….I’m a guy looking to make massive changes.”
Like 2006, Alpert thinks one of the differences between him and Blumenthal is their stance on the war.
Blumenthal, a former Marine, supports President Barack Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. Alpert, a former U.S. Air Force Officer, said “I believe very strongly that we need to immediately withdraw the military troops.“
He said he wants to invest the billions of dollars being spent on the Afghan war right here in America.
U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, who is himself campaigning for re-election, said Blumenthal should focus on the jobs and the economy Monday.
“As long as he comes back to his focus on jobs, he’ll be fine,” Murphy said.
Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman, another candidate exploring a run for governor, said “Merrick is a smart guy who’s raising a lot of important issues.”
“If Merrick wasn’t in the race there wouldn’t be a debate tomorrow night,” Glassman said.
As for Blumenthal, Glassman said, he should focus on what Connecticut needs to be doing to secure more federal dollars that we’re leaving on the table.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, yet another Democrat exploring a run for governor, said he thinks Blumenthal has a good understanding of the issues.
However, he warned that Democrats can’t be complacent and must “aggressively” get behind Blumenthal to guarantee he gets elected.
Three Republicans, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, and EuroPacific CEO Peter Schiff are all vying for the Republican nomination.
More than 150 people attended Sunday’s fundraiser for NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.
Jillian Gilchrest, executive director of Pro-Choice Connecticut, said this year the group is fighting to get the Connecticut legislature to pass two policy initiatives. The first is comprehensive sex education in all public schools. The second is paid sick leave for employers with more than 50 employees.