Christine Stuart photo

Since August, Republican Tim Herbst has been trying to get state Treasurer Denise Nappier to agree to a debate.

Until Tuesday morning it looked as if it was actually going to happen. Herbst and Nappier would share the stage at the Hartford Public Library and talk about their views of the office. But Nappier’s campaign spokeswoman, Rose Ryan, said Nappier would be unable to attend due to “personal reasons.”

Mary Ann Turner of Enfield, who attended Tuesday’s debate at the Hartford Public Library, said she was disappointed Nappier was not there to lay out her vision for the state. In making her statement publicly at the forum, Turner said she understands Nappier is dealing with a family situation.

A relative of Nappier, who declined to give her name or say how she was related to Nappier, said she was unaware of any family situation. The female relative declined further comment when pressed by the media.

“If you run for public office you have to face the public,” Herbst said. “You have to answer to the public because at the end of the day the public employs us.”

“This is the business we have chosen,” Herbst said, quoting from the film Godfather II. “If you’re not going to face the public, if you’re not going to face the media, you need to find another line of work.”

On Sept. 22, Nappier told CTNewsJunkie in a phone interview that she’s always debated her opponent and was looking forward to Tuesday’s debate.

But it looks like Herbst’s desire to get in five debates before Election Day is fading fast.

“What concerns me most is that Ms. Nappier has been unable to demonstrate to Connecticut residents why she deserves another term in office,” Herbst said earlier in the day. “I am genuinely concerned for her well-being and I think Ms. Nappier needs to let the families of Connecticut know whether she is physically and emotionally able to carry out her duties managing $26 billion of assets.”

Nappier, who has held the office for 16 years, has declined interview requests with several news organizations. But she did sit down with the Courant’s editorial board on Sept. 17 for an interview. It’s the most extensive interview of this election cycle that she’s given.

Herbst was joined on stage Tuesday by two of the three candidates for state comptroller: Republican challenger Sharon McLaughlin and Green Party candidate Rolf Maurer. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo had a previously scheduled engagement and was unable to accept the invitation to the forum, which was sponsored by the Hartford Votes Coalition.