Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Bob Stefanowski talking to the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — The latest poll shows the two major party candidates in a dead heat and in the last 12 days of the campaign it’s beginning to show in the paid messaging and the tighter leash on unscripted opportunities.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski canceled his appearance on WNPR’s “Where We Live” in Hartford Thursday morning and opted instead to show up at a CBS radio station in Ledyard where he was on the air with former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons and host Lee Elci.

Courtesy of the Lamont campaign
Ned Lamont with Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy at Trinity Solar (Courtesy of the Lamont campaign)

Democratic nominee Ned Lamont was at Trinity Solar in Cheshire on Thursday morning talking about renewable energy. Lamont will appear Friday morning on “Where We Live.” He has not requested an opportunity to go on 94.9 FM News Now in Ledyard with Elci.

Meanwhile, Stefanowski ignored a question from a reporter about when he will be releasing his tax returns, but his campaign manager Patrick Trueman said they would be releasing them “next week.”

Since September, Stefanowski, who requested an extension from the IRS this year, has been promising to release at least a “summary” of them.

Lamont released his last week and petitioning candidate Oz Griebel released his at the end of September.

“If he’s canceling radio appearances because he doesn’t want to answer questions, shouldn’t he have time to release his returns?” Christina Polizzi, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party said.

By Thursday afternoon, Stefanowski was talking to about 100 truckers at the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut meeting in Meriden. That’s where a handful of reporters caught up with him.

Before Stefanowski showed up at the Four Points Sheraton, Lamont released a new television ad featuring Erica Lafferty-Garbatini, the daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook School Elementary School principal who was gunned down on Dec. 14, 2012.

“She loved her kids. When the gunman began firing she was killed trying to save them,” Lafferty-Garbatini says in the ad.

Lafferty-Garbatini said she’s working to make sure that never happens again.

“Bob Stefanowski has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA,” Lafferty-Garbatini says in the ad. “He would go back to the laws that allowed my mom to be murdered. Don’t let Bob Stefanowski become governor.”

Stefanowski said the ad “is absolutely unacceptable.”

He said the ad shows Lamont’s “desperation” as the election draws near and he should be “embarrassed.”

“He’s been maliciously misrepresenting my positions for weeks now,” Stefanowski said.

Bob Stefanowski before MTAC meeting

Posted by on Thursday, October 25, 2018

Asked if the 2013 bipartisan legislation that implemented a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines should be repealed, Stefanowski talked about school safety and mental health.

He did not say whether he would roll back the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, but he told the Hartford Courant at one point he would.

He did receive an “AQ” rating from the NRA, which is the highest rating the organization gives candidate who has not held elected office. The NRA does not release its candidate questionnaire so it’s unclear what Stefanowski told the group in order to merit that rating.

On July 31 before the Republican primary, Stefanowski’s campaign released a statement touting the endorsement from the NRA.

“I am honored to have received the highest rating possible from the NRA,” Stefanowski said. “Protecting our children and the hard working people of Connecticut is of the utmost importance. But our focus needs to be on mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them; not on persecuting law abiding gun owners like Governor Malloy has for the past eight years. I remain committed to protecting the Second Amendment with the same vigor I will protect the rest of the Constitution.”

A Southington Republican Town Committee member Jeffrey Crown wrote on the CTGuntalk forum that he asked all the candidates what their position was on the Second Amendment, and “Only Bob Stefanowski gave us the right answer: ‘If a bill to repeal SB-1160 were put on my desk, I would sign it’.”

It’s unlikely the General Assembly would send him a repeal bill, but if they did there’s no indication he wouldn’t sign it.

SB-1160 was passed in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where a gunman took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. Its most immediate impact was the assault weapons ban.

Months after the legislation was passed gun owners lined up outside State Police headquarters in Middletown to register their assault weapons.

In 2014, they supported Republican Tom Foley, but were unable to get him elected.

Lamont has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Gabby Giffords, and CT Against Gun Violence.

“This November, voters face a clear choice,” Lamont said. “They can either move forward with a candidate who believes in common-sense laws to prevent violence in our schools and our communities, or they can go backwards with someone who’s received an ‘A’ grade from the NRA, who’s said he would repeal smart laws passed in the wake of Sandy Hook, and who stands with the gun lobby.”

On Friday Lamont plans to rally with former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy at the Hartford Arts Magnet School in Hartford.

On Saturday, Stefanowski will start a nine day bus tour. The tour will criss-cross the state and include hotel room stays for Stefanowski. It will kick off at 9 a.m. at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

In the closing weeks of the 2018 campaign, Stefanowski’s campaign has shifted to more positive television messaging, Jim Grasso, the late-Gov. Ella Grasso’s son, describes his mother as a “great governor and proud Democrat, who always did what was right.” Referring to the current economic state of Connecticut’s economy, Grasso goes on to say, “on election day, Ella Grasso’s son is going to be voting for Bob Stefanowski. Democrats across Connecticut should join me.”

The ad isn’t running at a high rotation rate on television, but it’s also running as pre-roll on Internet sites.

Grasso attended last weeks debate and will speak at the last stop on the bus tour.