Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

STORRS, CT — What was different about Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate at the University of Connecticut’s Jorgensen Auditorium? For starters, there was another person on stage.

Oz Griebel, who petitioned his way onto the ballot this year as an unaffiliated candidate, joined Democratic nominee Ned Lamont and Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski. This changed the dynamics of the discussion a bit in comparison to the two previous debates since the primary.

At UConn, Stefanowski continued to try to tie Lamont to outgoing Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Griebel made sure everyone knew he was not affiliated with either of the two major parties. And Lamont said he’d given up trying to get Stefanowski to reveal where he would find $11 billion in spending cuts in order to eliminate the state income tax.

Also different about the debate, which was broadcast by WFSB 3, was the crowd. There were about 750 students and faculty in the audience, which gave the third televised gubernatorial debate of the 2018 campaign a different feel because, unlike prior debates, the candidates couldn’t pack the room with their supporters.

Asked what their first executive order would be as governor, Stefanowski said it would be to declare a “state of emergency” and “reverse exactly what Dan Malloy has been doing for the last eight years.”

Lamont didn’t specifically answer the question, but he reminded the audience that two of the three of men on the stage had already challenged Malloy in 2010.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Ned Lamont (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Lamont was referring to himself — he lost in a primary to Malloy in 2010 — and Griebel, who also ran and lost in 2010, on the Republican ticket.

“Two of us here on this stage actually took on Dan Malloy in 2010. Two of us thought we needed to make the structural changes in order to get this state moving again,” Lamont said.

“Bob wasn’t there. I don’t know where Bob was,” Lamont said.

Records show that Stefanowski didn’t vote for 16 years, including in 2010 and 2014. Stefanowski said for part of that time he was in London, but should have voted by absentee ballot.

Lamont joked that it’s a unique opportunity for him to run against two Republicans, because he’s only run against Democrats in primaries.

“Oz is sort of a traditional Connecticut Republican and Bob is a Trump Republican,” Lamont said.

Griebel bristled at the description of him as a Republican.

“Ned is running against a Republican and an independent candidate,” Griebel said to laughs and applause.

Griebel said his first executive order would be to re-establish the Transportation Strategy Board.

“This notion is not about tolls or costs,” Griebel said. “It’s about making sure you understand that the dollars you pay in the gasoline tax, tolls, or your income tax are going into the services that you want.”

During his rebuttal, Stefanowski clarified that he was endorsed by the Independent Party of Connecticut. Griebel had also sought the minor party’s nomination but on Wednesday Stefanowski was quick to remind the audience that beat Griebel by a 43 to 14 vote for the Independent Party’s nomination, allowing him to capture a second ballot line on November 8.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Oz Griebel (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

The hour-long debate including a “lightning round,” which perhaps revealed more about the candidates than the rest of the Q&A.

During the lightning round the candidates were asked if Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I’m gonna pass on that. That’s a federal issue,” Stefanowski said as the audience of mostly students booed.

Lamont said he doesn’t think Kavanaugh should be approved and he added, “by the way, governors appoint Supreme Court justices” too, so it’s relevant.

Griebel said the women who have come forward have to be heard, and he thinks Kavanaugh deserves a fair hearing.

Asked what state agency or department they would eliminate, none of them were able to give a simple answer.

Lamont said he would merge the back-office functions of many agencies to eliminate redundancy. Griebel said the state Department of Economic and Community Development should be privatized. And Stefanowski said the state Department of Motor Vehicles should be privatized.

What grade would you give Republican President Donald Trump?

Griebel said “D+.”

Stefanowski, who gave him an A during the Republican primary, refused to answer the question. He said he liked Trump’s economic policy.

Lamont said “F.”

What grade would you give Malloy?

Lamont said when it comes to solving the fiscal crisis an “F.”

Griebel said “C+.”

Stefanowski said “F and Ned Lamont’s going to continue Dan Malloy’s policies.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Bob Stefanowski (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

What was Malloy’s biggest mistake?

Griebel said Malloy didn’t do enough to bring people together.

Stefanowski said it was the two largest tax increases in the state’s history.

Lamont said Malloy didn’t push all the way to get the fiscal crisis solved in his first year in office.

The best thing Malloy did?

Griebel said his second chance program.

Stefanowski said “definitely not his second chance program,” but was unable to come up with another answer.

Lamont said he thinks Griebel was right on criminal justice reform and “after Sandy Hook he was heroic.”

Would you change Connecticut law so that a gubernatorial candidate could pick their running mate instead of being paired with the winner of the primary?

Stefanowski said, “I think that one make sense.”

Lamont said, “I like my running mate.”

Griebel said, “that’s what we did.”

Stefanowski and his running mate, Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, haven’t been seen together much on the campaign trail.

In the post-debate spin room, Stefanowski said he was “happy to have him on my ticket.”

Post Debate Presser with Oz, Ned & Bob

Post debate spin with all three candidates. Oz Griebel, Ned Lamont, and Bob Stefanowski… STORY: Gubernatorial Candidates Grade Trump, Malloy In Third Debate –

Posted by on Wednesday, September 26, 2018