Lamont the timorous

Voters face a critical decision this year in selecting who can best lead Connecticut as governor through one of the most challenging periods in state history. That process begins Aug. 10, when primary voters narrow the field by choosing which candidates will represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the Nov. 2 election.

The importance of the gubernatorial primaries led to The Day joining with WTNH News8 to invite the candidates in both party races to participate in two live-telecast debates from the Garde Arts Center in New London.

All three Republican candidates - convention nominee Tom Foley and challengers Oz Griebel and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele - accepted. They will conduct a three-way, one-hour debate at 7 p.m. July 28 at the Garde, broadcast live by WTNH sister station MyTV9.

The candidate endorsed by the Democratic convention, Dan Malloy, also agreed to take part in a Democratic debate July 27. Unfortunately, his challenger for the Democratic nomination, Ned Lamont, is refusing to participate.

It does not speak well for Mr. Lamont that he alone among the five major-party candidates for governor is unwilling to come to eastern Connecticut and debate the issues. The next governor will have to confront the legislature to control spending, state labor unions to rein in pay and benefits and the utilities to get high energy costs under control. Yet Mr. Lamont is not prepared to confront his opponent.

Yes, Mr. Lamont has held other forums and debates with Mr. Malloy, but The Day/WTNH debates at the Garde are major political events in eastern Connecticut. It is a disservice to eastern Connecticut voters that Mr. Lamont will not take part.

We thank the Republican candidates for accepting the invitation, as we do Mr. Malloy, who unfortunately cannot be accommodated because there is no other candidate in his party to debate.

Tickets for the Republican debate are free and available at The Garde, The Day office, the Waterford and Groton public libraries and at Otis Library in Norwich.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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