FIONA MCELROY ’20
On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the first debate between candidates for governor of Connecticut of the 2018 election was announced. It will take place on Nov. 17 at the University of Hartford as part of the New England Maker Summit, and it will feature seven candidates who have announced their candidacy for the position. The three Democrats are Dita Bhargava from Greenwich, Mayor of Danbury, Chris Mattei of Harford, and Jonathan Harris of West Hartford. The four Republicans are Mark Boughton, state Senator Toni Bouch of Wilton, Prasad Srinivasna of Glastonbury, and first selectman of Trumbull Tim Herbst. The forum will have a focus on Connecticut’s economy, particularly assisting start-up companies and entrepreneurship. This topic is on the minds of many Connecticut citizens in the wake of General Electric leaving their headquarters in Fairfield in 2016 and Aetna leaving Hartford, the so-called Insurance Capital of the World where Aetna was founded in 1853, earlier this year. Notably, the list of participants excludes Dan Drew, who was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy this past July and the only candidate to have already chosen a running mate. Drew is a progressive Democrat who has seen success as mayor of Middletown, where unemployment has decreased by 50% since his election in 2011. Drew, helped bring 1,000 jobs to Middletown by negotiating a deal with FedEx that ended with the company purchasing the 264 acre site that was previously occupied by Aetna. After learning about the debate, the campaign team of Dan Drew reached out to the organizers to inquire about the lack of an invitation and discovered that the invitations had been decided by a donor who happens to support one of Drew’s opponents. The organizers claimed that it was too late to add another person, and that there is no room for an eighth seat at the table. Drew issued a statement on his Facebook page, which has over fourteen thousand likes and followers, saying that he would instead host his own Q&A session. The Trinity College Democrats Club, who met Dan Drew at the College Democrats of Connecticut Conference last spring, reacted to this exclusion early Saturday morning by inviting Drew to host his Q&A session on Trinity’s campus, at the same time as the candidate’s forum at University of Hartford, and the campaign accepted the offer. Both the campaign and the Trinity College Democrats Club say they are willing to include any other Democratic candidates who were excluded from the Maker Summit panel. The event will be primarily organized by the campaign and will take place on Friday, Nov. 17 at 3:15 pm. This is the same time as the Makers Summit Forum with the other seven candidates, which is being advertised as a debate between seven “major” candidates. Despite this, seven participants fall far behind Drew in online engagement—a useful gage of popularity at this stage in the race, nine months before the primary and just about a year before the election Connecticut is currently a Democratic bastion and has held this status since the election of 2010, when Governor Dannel Malloy was elected. The State Senate is currently evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, with Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, as the tiebreaking vote.