U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes and George Logan debate at CCSU’s Torp Theatre Credit: Mark Mirko/Connecticut Public

NEW BRITAIN – For the second time in a week, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes and George Logan met for a debate to appeal to the mostly unaffiliated voters in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. 

At a debate sponsored by Connecticut Public, the two both promised to work with the opposite party, while accusing the other of voting in lock-step with their own party. 

“We have different ideas about how these things are going to get done and my ideas are centered in the people, and the families, and my neighbors and my friends,” Hayes said. “Yes, we absolutely disagree on the way these things should be done.”

Hayes was referring to her votes to fund the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. 

She accused Logan, a former state Senator who served for two terms, of voting against an increase in the minimum wage and paid Family and Medical Leave. 

Logan sought to defend his votes. 

“I voted against the Democrat version of paid Family and Medical Leave,” Logan said. “The Democrat version included a tax of half a percent of everyone’s pay in the state of Connecticut. The version I supported, people would opt into paid Family and Medical Leave. They would get a choice. I’m about offering choice.” 

Logan accused Hayes of voting in lock-step with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

“You need to know that at the federal level Nancy Pelosi does not vote on every vote,” Hayes said. “As the speaker she votes on big packages, so I did vote with Nancy Pelosi on things like the American Rescue Plan, on things like the infrastructure and jobs act, the gun legislation that we passed.” 

She said she fact-checked herself and of the 900 votes she cast she only voted with Pelosi 14% of the time.

“You can also check that Mr. Logan – mister work across the aisle in a bipartisan fashion – voted 100% of the time. One hundred percent of the votes he took were in line with Senate Republicans,” Hayes said. 

Logan said it’s “laughable” for Hayes to say she only voted with Pelosi 14% of the time when she has supported every initiative of the Democratic Party. 

“She’s comparing apples and oranges here,” Logan said. 

He said in the state Senate they worked on a much more bipartisan basis than Congress because it’s not as polarized. He said “84% of the votes when I was in the state Senate were bipartisan.” 

Logan served at a time when Democrats and Republicans in the 36-member chamber were tied, giving Republicans more power than they’ve had in decades. He pointed out that was the year Republicans were able to get a spending cap, revenue cap, bonding cap, and volatility cap passed. 

But what can a single Congressman do if they are in the minority? 

“We have the attention of the Democratic leadership. My campaign, we have the attention of the House Republican leadership,” Logan said. “Because one person can make a difference.” 

He said as one person, who won a traditionally Democratic district, they had the tie in the Senate. 

“We were able to do things, accomplish things,” Logan said once they had the tie. 

Logan said he wants to go to Washington and make a difference and believes he will do a much better job than Hayes. 

“I do not believe my opponent is a bad person, I just disagree with her position. I do not agree with her decisions in Washington to back the Biden-Harris agenda,” Logan said. 

Frankie Graziano, the WNPR reporter who moderated the debate, noted the tension between the two on the question. 

Hayes said she’s not comparing apples to oranges, “I’m comparing votes to votes.” 

Hayes said Logan is right to point out he has the attention of national Republican Party leadership. 

“There is a reason why they are putting millions of dollars into a campaign behind a candidate and it’s not because he will be an independent voice,” Hayes said. “…I don’t know Mr. Logan as a person so I can’t comment on him personally, but what I do know that since this campaign started there has been mudslinging and coming out tweets at me everyday. If this is about the issues then let’s keep it about the issues.” 

The race for congress in the state’s 5th Congressional District is one of Connecticut’s most closely-watched contests, attracting more than $5 million in outside money.

The oddly-shaped district stretches from the Northwest Corner as far south as Newtown and as far east as the Farmington Valley. True to its reputation as a swing district, the 5th includes the rural municipalities of Litchfield County, but also exurban New Milford, as well as the Waterbury suburbs, many of which lean Republican. In addition to Waterbury, the 5th also includes the small-to-mid-sized cities of Torrington, Danbury, New Britain and Meriden, which lean Democratic in voter registration.