Bridgeport resident David Walker, Republican candidate for governor, has declared a “non-scientific” post-debate text survey showing former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst winning, with Walker placing fifth, “inappropriate and grossly misleading.” Walker and Herbst, neither bashful in their observations, are not exactly cuddly Republicans in their quest for the GOP nomination, trading sharp elbows on a number of subjects in the course of the underway 2018 campaign for governor.
Walker issued this response in the comments section of the CT Post under this story in which he also lectures debate organizers about the parameters of candidate forum qualification. The Connecticut Republican Party is led by J.R. Romano, a Herbst ally.
The CT GOP’s surprise and non-scientific poll in connection with last week’s GOP Presidential debate was inappropriate and grossly misleading. Only 200 people voted and the results were dramatically different from feedback received from informed and independent debate watchers, including political experts. Such non-scientific individual candidate polls should be discontinued in the future. They are not in the interest of the party or the people. At the same time, the CT GOP should poll people on the overall value of the individual forums, and allow people to provide written comments on the forum and individual candidates, should they so desire. Future forums need to have tougher criteria for participation given the number of people seeking the office of Governor. At this late time in the process, individuals need to be declared candidates who have raised at least $150,000 in qualifying contribution as of 12/31/17 in order to participate in the 1/10 debate. Writing a personal check should not be enough to get on the stage. In addition, more time and attention needs to be focused on the most important challenges facing the state, including taxes and regulation, pension and retiree health care benefits, welfare reform, education, health care, and infrastructure. These topics were not adequately addressed and way too much time was spent on marijuana and casinos in the last debate. Finally, the format needs to facilitate the ability to correct the record live when persons misrepresent their experience and track records. That occurred several times in the first debate. I will be prepared to set the record straight in the next forum if the persons involved do it again.
For his part, Herbst says:
“I am humbled and grateful that debate viewers thought I was the clear winner of the first debate. Our campaign to upend business-as-usual in Hartford by electing a proven reformer and Hartford outsider continues to gain momentum every day. I wouldn’t think it wise for any candidate for governor to dismiss feedback from voters just because they disagree with it. I look forward to using my time at the coming debates discussing my vision for saving our state from the disastrous agenda of Gov. Malloy and his insider allies, leveling with voters about the serious challenges facing Connecticut and discussing, in detail, what I intend to do to tackle them.”
Herbst and Walker are vying in a large GOP field that also includes Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, both of whom did not show for the forum streamed by FOX 61 and the State GOP Facebook page.
Forums, fundraising and appeals to party delegates in advance of the May endorsement session are all well underway. A party primary looms next August.