New Haven Mayor John DeStefano is trying to get Rell out of the Rose Garden and get her in front of the voters in a one-on-one debate. So far, that has not worked.
DeStefano is so frustrated that he is even citing disgraced former Gov. John G. Rowland as a positive campaign role model for Rell, because Rowland went one-on-one with Democrat Barbara Kennelly in 1998 and did not include the minor-party candidates.
As part of the spirit of the state's landmark campaign finance reforms, the minor party candidates should be given a greater voice, Rell said.
"Why shouldn't they be a part of the debate?" Rell asked reporters this week. (Keating)
Both Rell and DeStefano have a point. Cliff Thornton (Green) and Joseph A. Zdonczyk (Concerned Citizens) qualified for the ballot, and should be part of at least one debate. DeStefano makes himself look even worse by trying to shut them out. The precedent mentioned in the article is Sen. Chris Dodd's four-way debates in 2004:
Rell cites the precedent of U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who participated in two four-way debates in 2004 that included equal time for the Concerned Citizens and Libertarian Party nominees along with the chief Republican challenger, Jack Orchulli. Political insiders said Dodd's strategy worked because the debates became so diluted that Dodd skated to victory in a cakewalk against three virtual unknowns. (Keating)
Right, it was the debate that cost Orchulli the election. Got it.
But DeStefano is right that Rell is avoiding him. And why not? She can afford to. She has a ton of money and a huge lead. If he's lucky, she may actually speak his name sometime in October.
There are a lot of issues that need to be debated. Something like three debates in October would be great. DeStefano, however, should accept the minor candidates. He should welcome them, in fact. If his ideas are as powerful, innovative and necessary as he says, then that should come through no matter how many others are on stage with him.
Keating, Christopher. "Debating Protocol For Debates." Hartford Courant 20 September, 2006.