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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Winsley: Only a debate will do; DeLauro’s staff says forums are good enough

As published in the Record Journal Tuesday October 9, 2012

By Laurie Rich Salerno
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2235

WALLINGFORD — Wayne Winsley says he’s being ignored.

The Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat said that his requests for debates against 11-term Democratic incumbent Rosa DeLauro were not acknowledged for weeks by her campaign — until 30 minutes before a press conference in New Haven he had planned to hold on the topic last Wednesday.

The email he received from DeLauro’s campaign staff that day said that they were setting up a debate on WFSB’s “Face the State,” but a date had not been confirmed. Winsley said Monday that he hasn’t heard anything since from his opponent’s campaign.

“We are 29 days out from the election and I believe that Congresswoman DeLauro is trying to run out the clock,” Winsley said.

But DeLauro campaign officials say that, while there isn’t a date yet, the “Face the State” debate is on — and that they’re the ones who called the station to request it.

“I reached out to them on the congresswoman’s behalf to initiate a debate,” said De-Lauro campaign spokesman Jimmy Tickey. “They have been in touch with us — we have confirmed.”

WFSB assignment manager Chris Collibee said Monday that DeLauro’s campaign had contacted the station, and that he is working on scheduling a debate between the two. He couldn’t confirm at this point that the debate would definitely occur.

Winsley, a former radio host turned motivational speaker, from Naugatuck, said he believes DeLauro is dodging him.

“I can only guess that she assumes that people will just vote for her anyway,” Winsley said, adding that her reticence could also be because of the state of jobs and the economy since she’s been in office.

Tickey said that isn’t the case.

“The congresswoman has always taken part in events that give voters an opportunity to hear from the candidates,” Tickey said, adding that in every election she has participated “in forums and debates and things that bring the candidates together.”

State Democratic Party communications director Elizabeth Larkin said DeLauro has historically done two debates, one on WFSB and one on Channel 30, and that Channel 30 had not seemed interested in a debate this year.

“She’s always done these specific things, and that’s kind of how her schedule goes,” Larkin said.

Tickey said Winsley requested the debates for the first time two weeks ago, and his team responded a week later — a common timeframe, he said. Winsley said he first called the campaign to discuss the debate a month ago.

In addition to the “Face the State” debate, the two are also scheduled to both appear at two candidate forums, in which they will not go toe-to-toe, but respond to questions from the audience.

The first is the Westfield residents forum on Oct. 22 at Third Congregational Church in Middletown at 7:30 p.m., the other is on Oct. 28 at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden at 9 a.m.

But Winsley said forums aren’t as revealing for voters as debates.

“The forums are opportunities for the candidates to give a statement and be asked some questions, but they’re not on the stage at the same time — you don’t engage each other,” Winsley said.

Tickey disagreed, saying the forums are valuable.

“Often the folks who attend candidate forums are the residents,” Tickey said, adding that it’s a “great opportunity to have an exchange of ideas — to talk about policy.”