Ned Lamont’s well received decision to participate in next week’s debate with Dan Malloy is buoying hopes that interest will be spiked in the race for governor among the electorate. In a week and a half voters will choose the candidates who will face off in the November election; an historic election, yet it seems many people just don’t care.
This is the first time in several decades that both the governor’s office and the senate seat are wide open without an incumbent running, and yet many people seem to shrug it off and prefer to talk about watching “True Blood,” or “Mad Men.”
That’s fiction, while the drama this year in Connecticut politics has been stunningly real. Think about what we’ve had since January. One of the most powerful Democrats in Washington, son of a former Senator who went out in disgrace, was accused of getting questionable loans and was forced to retire two years after running for president and surviving a battle with cancer. The CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment went from the ring to becoming the most visible candidate on local television. The state’s most popular Democrat was accused on national television of lying. The man who knocked off another former presidential candidate in a nationally watched senate primary came back to run for governor. A former television anchor jumped into the race for congress. A former ambassador ran for senate and then governor. A former congressman was in the race, then out, then back in. A member of America’s most famous political family cut his first TV ad ever for a local politician. Throw in Ferraris, factory closings, a candidate named Oz, and a mayor convicted of corruption and you have a political year that has been anything but boring. Yet the electorate seems bored by it.
According to numbers from Nielsen Research, the television ratings for the debates this year have been nothing short of disappointing. It is too bad because those who didn’t watch the most recent debate missed a very good show. Ann Nyberg did a great job of moderating with tough questions from Mark Davis and Paul Choiniere that led to some memorable comments from Republicans Oz Griebel, Tom Foley and Michael Fedele.
I should also note that the most popular topic we addressed on “Face the State” this year that drew the most attention and most comments was not a grilling of a politician, but rather my interview with former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin. It seems the prospect of restoring major league sports in Connecticut trumps concern over who will be the next governor. My old blog entries about the Whalers are still read daily.
We’re hoping to have a sizable audience next week for the gubernatorial debates on WFSB, WNPR and CPTV. There will be two debates: one with Democrats Malloy and Lamont on Tuesday, August 3rd and the following day Republicans Foley, Fedele and Griebel will slug it out. Both will be moderated by the incomparable John Dankosky of WNPR and yours truly.
We are pre-empting Better Connecticut at 3PM to air the debates which will be simulcast on WNPR. The debates will also be broadcast on CPTV at 8PM and simulcast again. The debate can also been seen on wfsb.com
We should point out television stations do not produce these debates to get ratings. They are a public service, provided to the viewers and voters so they can learn about the candidates they will vote for. This is a very important election. We invite you to tune in and I guarantee it will have a greater impact on your life and be far more interesting than a re-run of “Two and a Half Men.”
Sadly, more people watched that the other night than the debate.
Still, those people who aren’t following the races might still vote, and could be the wild card in the election.