WATERBURY – The candidates for Connecticut’s most competitive congressional seat used their final debate on Thursday to highlight their own vision for rescuing voters from the coronavirus crisis, and to heighten the contrast between their leadership styles.
U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, a one-term Democrat favored by leading election forecasters to win re-election in the 5th District, highlighted her record as a uniter who won’t allow politics to decide who she fights for.
David X. Sullivan, a Republican challenger who’s raised more money than the previous two GOP candidates for the 5th District combined, highlighted his resume as a Reagan Republican who believes reducing government dependency puts the American Dream in reach for more people.
“Of all the representatives Connecticut has in congress we have one voice – a Democratic voice that is moving farther and farther to the left,” Sullivan said during a late morning Zoom debate sponsored by the Waterbury Regional Chamber. “Voting with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time is not leadership, it’s voting with the pack.”
Sullivan was referring to Hayes’ voting record as a freshman congresswoman being in sync with Pelosi, the House Speaker, who is often a target of conservatives. Hayes responded Thursday that she was proud of her voting record, because the legislative priorities of the Democratic-controlled House were the priorities of 5th District voters.
Hayes, who won the 2016 national Teacher of the Year award teaching social studies in Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School, was among the women of color elected in 2018 that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives.
“I never saw myself first as a Democrat – I’m a teacher,” Hayes said on Thursday. “I think change is good – and we need fresh faces and views – and that is what I bring to congress as a teacher.”
Sullivan, a former assistant U.S. attorney who retired in 2019 and still teaches as an adjunct at area universities, said he supported the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response that deferred to states. Sullivan also said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s $4 trillion tax plan would “stifle the economy for 10 years and in Connecticut would be economic Armageddon.”
Hayes, disagreed, saying that if the White House had instituted a national coronavirus strategy to test and contact trace, the country would be healthier. She said she supported Biden’s tax plan because “everyone in the community has to do their part,” including the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.