Who ‘won’ the 5th District debate in Torrington? Chris Donovan, by default
Chris Donovan at the state Capitol in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
By Matt DeRienzo, Staff Reporter
Who wins a debate that features zero differences on policy, and candidates who don’t criticize or distinguish themselves from each other?
And for that reason, Connecticut Speaker of the House Chris Donovan won Tuesday night’s debate among the three Democrats running for Connecticut’s 5th District congressional seat.
Read the blow-by-blow transcript of the debate from our live blog.
He had the advantage of pointing to specific legislation that he had helped pass in his career on almost every question that arose, while Roberti and Esty could only state their views on particular issues, views that lined up exactly with Donovan’s.
Of course, polish wins debates, but doesn’t necessarily win elections.
We can expect Esty, in particular, to continue to hone and repeat her framing of the race as the “soccer mom vs. the Speaker of the House.”
“If we send the same old politician to Washington, we’re going to get the same old results,” she said in her opening statement last night.
Esty is the only candidate among the three to refuse to take Donovan’s obviously self-serving pledge against negative campaigning. That affords her the opportunity to point out any and every piece of Donovan’s record that reminds voters of the kind of politics they’re sick of.
For example, Donovan spoke at length Tuesday night about his leadership on campaign finance reform in Connecticut, but has accepted donations in his congressional campaign that would be banned under the law he helped pass in Connecticut. And they were donations from interest groups who were lobbying him on specific pending legislation. And they got their way.
And Roberti showed he’s not afraid to take swings at Donovan, either. He hit Donovan on Tuesday for breaking his pledge on negative campaigning the morning after he called for it, by sending out an attack on Esty.
Were you at Tuesday night’s debate? Who do you think “won,” and why?