Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Republican Mark Greenberg will meet for their second debate Tuesday in Waterbury, and will be on the phone together Wednesday for a discussion with the AARP about issues affecting senior citizens.
Gun control, the issue that made headlines out of their first debate Oct. 9 in Danbury, will be a likely point of contention when the 5th District Congressional candidates meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Mattatuck Museum. The debate is sponsored by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce and will be moderated by Jonathan Kellogg, executive editor of the Republican-American of Waterbury. It will be taped by the Connecticut Network for broadcast the following day.
Following their first debate, the National Rifle Association downgraded its rating of Greenberg’s candidacy from “A” to “F” based on comments he made joining Esty in expressing support for universal background checks on gun purchases.
While Greenberg has said he didn’t fill out an NRA questionnaire this year because he doesn’t want to “politicize” the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Esty’s campaign has questioned his sudden change in position on gun control and how far it really goes.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Esty and Greenberg will take questions from the AARP and its members via teleconference.
Both candidates have made Social Security an issue in the campaign. Esty has accused Greenberg of wanting to dismantle the program and take benefits away from seniors, a charge that his campaign and the Hartford Courant have called “false.”
In a new TV ad released Monday, Greenberg accused Esty of favoring “higher Social Security taxes.”
The debate centers around what each would do to address the possibility that Social Security will be “insolvent” a decade or two from now as Baby Boomers age.
Greenberg favors and Esty opposes a gradual lifting of the retirement age to 70, a proposal that would affect people who are currently under the age of 52.
Esty favors and Greenberg opposes lifting the cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes.
EARLY VOTING: Mark Greenberg is against a referendum on the November ballot in Connecticut that would amend the state constitution to open the door for the kind of early voting that has become a practice in other states. Elizabeth Esty supports the change.
Currently, voters may receive an absentee ballot and fill it out prior to Election Day only if they swear that they are physically unable to go to the polls that day.
“Mark supports the (federal) Constitution, which clearly states a specific day for voting. Any change to that can be done through the amendment process,” said Bill Evans, his campaign manager.
Esty issued a statement expressing support for the referendum.
“Seniors, students, working families, and people who are disabled often find it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day,” she said. “By reducing our outdated, burdensome restrictions and allowing folks to vote by absentee ballot beforehand, we will increase voter participation in our state, which is always a good thing for our democracy.”
LGBT RATING: Elizabeth Esty is touting a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.” She was among a record 210 members of Congress, out of 541 total, who received a perfect score based on their “votes and co-sponsorships of pieces of legislation that are key indicators of support for LGBT equality.”
CONSERVATION VOTERS: The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Esty’s re-election bid. Esty received a 100 percent rating on the organization’s “scorecard” of votes and positions on issues it sees as crucial to protecting the environment. It cited her introduction of “a bill that would incentivize remediation of contaminated land and another that would designate over 60 miles of the Farmington River as a Wild and Scenic River.” It also praised her for believing that the country has a “moral obligation to address climate change.”
The Esty campaign used the endorsement to criticize her opponent’s support for offshore drilling.
“While Elizabeth Esty is committed to protecting our environment and moving us forward towards a clean energy future, Mark Greenberg’s ‘drill, drill, drill’ agenda would just bring us backwards,” said Laura Maloney, Esty’s campaign spokeswoman. “We should be working to combat climate change and protect our environment, not wreak havoc on our coastal and marine ecosystems with more disastrous oil spills.”
VETERANS: Elizabeth Esty has been talking a lot during her re-election campaign about issues affecting veterans. The CT Mirror suggests that it’s a calculated effort to take a traditional issue away from Republicans.
ESTY LEADS IN FUNDRAISING: Elizabeth Esty is the newest member of Congress from Connecticut and is widely perceived to be most at risk in her re-election bid. Perhaps accordingly, her $2.5 million campaign war chest is the largest among the state’s House delegation.