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Pending invite

Published August 01. 2012 4:00AM

The two Democratic candidates running for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 14 primary were willing to answer questions and debate the issues, as was one of the Republican candidates for that party's nomination, Chris Shays. The question remains whether the other person in the race, the candidate most likely to get the GOP nomination - Linda McMahon - will continue to duck opportunities to defend her positions.

On Monday Democrats Susan Bysiewicz, the former secretary of the state, and 5th District Congressman Chris Murphy took part in an hour-long substantive debate at the Garde Performing Arts Center. (Readers can watch the debate on theday.com.)

The positions of the two Democratic candidates line up on most of the major issues. Both agree with President Obama's proposal to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for couples with incomes of $250,000 or more, but keep them in place for the middle-class. Both disagree with the president, the titular head of their party, on Afghanistan, saying they would like to get American servicemen and women out of there sooner than 2014.

Mr. Murphy, who polls show leading in the race, effectively parried attempts by Ms. Bysiewicz to paint him as beholden to Wall Street. She pointed repeatedly to a single Murphy vote in 2010 in which he voted against legislation that included ending tax breaks for hedge fund managers. Mr. Murphy said he voted to eliminate the loopholes on other occasions, pointed out Ms. Bysiewicz accepts money from wealthy investors too, and said his many endorsements from labor and progressive political groups show where his loyalties lie.

Former Congressman Shays had hoped to have the same opportunity to debate his opponent, but Ms. McMahon declined the invitation of the debate sponsors- the Garde, Day and WTNH. Ms. McMahon participated in only two primary debates and has refused to meet with newspaper editorial boards. She prefers the TV commercials her riches can pay for, a medium in which simple solutions offered for complex problems go unchallenged.

The Day, Garde and WTNH plan to host a general election Senate debate, when major differences on the issues will be in play. If they prevail in the primary, Shays, Murphy and Bysiewicz have said they will participate.

But would Ms. McMahon? If she wins, we'll be asking.

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