Lamont, Ganim Milk The Trust Issue

Paul Bass PhotosAsked how much a gallon milk costs, Ned Lamont hesitated, then raised three fingers.

“Three dollars,” he said — then resumed tussling with Joe Ganim over who best understands and can fight for “vulnerable” and middle-class families.

Lamont and Ganim were on New Haven’s famed Shubert Theater stage to debate about which of them deserves votes in the Aug. 14 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The same question about the price of a gallon of milk was asked Thursday night of the five Republican candidates for governor, who had their own debate at Mohegan Sun. One of the five, David Stemerman — like Lamont, a Greenwich millionaire financing his own campaign — botched his lines. He thought milk sold for $1.25. (The other candidates correctly answered in the $3-$4 range.)

The price of milk — or knowing the price of milk — is implicitly relevant to a governor’s race in which four candidates (Lamont and three of the Republicans) are wealthy businessmen with no real government experience pouring millions of personal dollars into trying to buy the state’s highest elected office.

It has explicit relevance in the two-man Democratic race. At Thursday night’s New Haven debate, which was hosted by the Connecticut Association of Realtors, Lamont and Ganim largely agreed on issues: a $15 hourly minimum wage, paid family leave, more investment in transportation and infrastructure, honoring labor agreements rather than reopening negotiations. They pummeled each other over the character issue, which may decide the primary: Whom voters can trust to run the state?

Trust An Ex-Felon?

In tackling that question, Lamont and Ganim ended up speaking a lot to “Lois.”

They addressed Lois by name, even though she wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Lois spoke to them through panelist Mark Davis of WTNH, who read two questions Lois submitted for the debate through the web. The questions cut to the core challenge each candidate faces in winning the trust question.

Lois reminded Ganim, the mayor of Bridgeport, that he served seven years in federal prison. A jury found Ganim guilty of 16 counts of racketeering, extortion, racketeering conspiracy, bribery, mail fraud and other felony charges for pocketing a half-million dollars worth of kickbacks from city contractors in the form of cash, meals, clothes, wine, and home repairs.

“How can we trust you not to revert to your former behavior?” Lois asked, as channeled through Davis.

Ganim said that after serving his time for making “terrible mistakes,” he decided he still had much to offer Bridgeport, and voters gave him that second chance by electing him back to the mayor’s office. He spoke of hiring one of the prosecutors who sent him to jail as the head of an integrity unit at City Hall.

“Every saint has a past,” Ganim said. “I pray and hope that every sinner has a future.”

In the campaign Ganim has managed to strike a chord with some voters, especially black voters, with his appeal to second chances for people who have been locked up.

Perhaps mindful of that success, Lamont praised the voters of Bridgeport for giving Ganim that second chance. Then he criticized Ganim (for the first of two times during the debate) for spending his days running for governor rather than returning their trust.

“They gave you a second chance,” Lamont told Ganim. “Fight for them” to revive Bridgeport. Lamont promised that if elected governor, he’d happily help Ganim do that.

“I appreciate Ned’s comments,” Ganim responded, “to a certain extent.”

Trust A Self-Financing Plutocrat?

Lois asked Lamont about his boast of being a government “outsider” who made a killing in private business. She noted that Donald Trump made the same boast when he ran for president, leading Lois to conclude that “running a business is not the best training for running a government.” She asked Lamont how his business experience and lack of government experience made him qualified for the job.

Lamont spoke of the difference a commitment to public service makes. “Donald Trump does not have an ounce of public service” in him, Lamont said. He said he does, because he ran for a a Greenwich town board, chaired a state pension board, and substitute-taught in a Bridgeport public high school.

He said his experience creating jobs will enable him to govern well with both business and labor. He argued that governors with similar backgrounds have done that in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts —specifically citing the latter state’s Republican incumbent, Charlie Baker.

Ganim wasn’t buying.

“Lois,” he said, “I have that same question and concern.”

He said that candidates who “step out of business a la Trump” (with whom he did business in the 1990s and whom he initially praised as a “good man” after the 2016 election before becoming a critic) turn out to bring “disaster” to government.

In the debate, Ganim reprised his criticism of Lamont as an out-of-touch plutocrat with eight bathrooms in his house.

After he correctly answered the gallon-of-milk pricing question, posed by panelist Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie, Lamont responded to the bathroom criticism with humor, noting that he has the endorsement of the plumbers and pipefitters union. He argued that a person’s values, integrity and deeds matter more than his personal wealth.

He also sought to equate his economic status to Ganim’s. He said they “both had successful parents” and attended “good suburban schools” growing up.

Ganim responded by noting that Lamont’s personal wealth is estimated at $90-$300 million.

“We had eight children in my family,” Ganim remarked. “We never had eight bathrooms.”


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posted by: AverageTaxpayer on July 13, 2018  9:14am

Ganim is a full-blown narcissist.

The ex-felon, big city mayor has no chance of winning the general, (the rest of the state is not Bridgeport!), yet he carries on as if only he can save Connecticut….

He and Mario Testa’s gang is not what we need at the top of our ticket.

posted by: John Bodnar on July 13, 2018  12:08pm

I was at the debate last night.I was impressed with the reporters and candidates. Christine Stuart .fromCtnewsjunkie, asked some thought-provoking questions and Mayor Ganim had some great answers.The one about not having eight bathrooms was excellent.
!960 Kennedy destroyed Nixon,at the debate.
1980 Reagan destroyed Carter at the debate
2018 Ganim destroyed Lamont at the debate.

Ganim clearly won the debate with his genuine authentic answers.

posted by: cellardoor on July 13, 2018  1:06pm

Disgusting that Ganim is even in this race.  Sociopathy rules!

posted by: BevHills730 on July 13, 2018  1:19pm

Currently, Ganim is the most serious threat to New Haven and other Connecticut cities.  We all know that a Republican governor will gut funding to cities and take extraordinary measures to help Trump make our most vulnerable residents even more threatened.  The only thing Ganim can do in this election is to make this outcome more likely.

posted by: ShadowBoxer on July 13, 2018  1:41pm

I was at this debate last night because I am genuinely open minded and like both candidates for different reasons.  Having said that, the accounting in this article of LaMont’s answer to the milk question does not comport with what I experienced live in the audience, so I would urge all readers to cue up to 16:44 in the first video below and judge for themselves.  When LaMont was asked the price of milk, he looked like a deer caught in headlights and started to fillibuster for a good thirty seconds, mentioning the bathrooms to change the topic, and endorsement of plumbers unions.  The audience began to gasp, because it seemed clear he did not know the answer, and started to jeer and shout.  After looking off into the audience, he eventually held up three fingers and said “$3” but it was an obvious save.  I fully expected Ganim to pounce on this, but he too got distracted.  I honestly think LaMont had no clue, and would encourage everyone to view that moment themselves at 16:44.  While not disqualifying the moment was telling.  The bigger issue is the average Joe could not attend this event.  Only donors, and well healed realtors.  There were many empty seats, but the Democratic party seemed horrified to offer the seats to, well average people.  I was dismayed.  Yes, since the realtors sponsored it it was a private event, but I still think it was tone deaf not to offer empty seats to real average Joe voters.

posted by: Atwater on July 13, 2018  1:45pm

If Gamin wins Connecticut is doomed. The fact that he’s even running and being considered a serious contender is horrid. He should in no way be allowed near any public office, not even dog catcher.

posted by: cellardoor on July 13, 2018  2:39pm

Shadowboxer the question about milk was a stupid one, and if we on that basis throw our votes to a bona fide sociopathic felon — because we don’t already have enough of those in high office? — then we deserve what we get.  Why not just elect a dog whistle?  Why not exhume the body of PT Barnum and install that in the governor’s office? Also, let’s buy the Brooklyn Bridge and move it to the Long Island Sound! It won’t stretch all the way across to Long Island, but hey it would look awesome.

posted by: robn on July 13, 2018  3:11pm

Maybe Lamont doesn’t do the grocery shopping in his house.

posted by: cellardoor on July 13, 2018  3:24pm

Yes Robn maybe Lamont is too engaged using his great, but honestly acquired wealth in public service to do the grocery run — he might even pay someone decent wages (including overtime) to do that.  Ganim, on the other hand, lived rent-free for years at the government’s expense, and had the time to clip coupons. Here is a state-level test of just how trivial and gullible voters can be.

posted by: man1 on July 13, 2018  3:42pm

I am a hard working blue collar worker and couldn’t tell you how much milk is as I don’t do the grocery shopping for my household. Not defending Lamont,I just think to take that Q&A and run with it is ridiculous. 

A felon will not win the rest of the state and would just hand the republicans the win.

It just might have to be a Republican this time

posted by: cellardoor on July 13, 2018  4:28pm

Man1 I’m an indolent retiree in a lactose intolerant household and I couldn’t have answered this question either. Question is: what are local and state journalists going to do to improve the substance of the debate? To the degree that they focus on this nonsense they are playing into demagogic hands, just as they did in 2016.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 13, 2018  9:59pm

Bob Marley - Hypocrites (Songs Of Freedom) | HD

Dem cut - cut - cut against ‘em one another; Cut - cut - cut against ‘em one another. Oh, them teach to love one another; Oh, them teach to love one another. Man, go!

posted by: robn on July 14, 2018  8:18am

The question about milk could have been more carefully put because for long now, there’s been an imbalance in price (capped by federal, regional and state price controls) and cost of production (which has random inputs including energy costs associated with shipping.) If anything the candidates should have been asked about how policy affects producers (who in CT went from 663 in 1980 to 367 in 1990 to 169 in 2006). Dairy is this regions largest agricultural industry and farmers are suffering way more than consumers.

posted by: NHNative on July 14, 2018  8:26am

I will vote in the primary to vote against Ganim.  If Ganim wins, in November I will vote Republican.

posted by: cellardoor on July 14, 2018  4:17pm

I will vote in the primary, for Ned Lamont and vehemently against Ganim. If Ganim wins the Dem primary — stranger things have happened, and recently — and a Trumpist Republican is nominated by the Rs, then I’ll write in “robn”, who actually seems to know a thing or two about milk!

posted by: mcg2000 on July 14, 2018  10:22pm

@shadowboxer as a registered Democrat who lives right near the Shubert and who is on the CT Democrats email list, I was unhappy that regular registered Democrats were not allotted any tickets to this debate, which should be a public forum. It would have been different had it been a candidate appearance to the group. Shouldn’t the Democratic Party be a party for the regular people? Did the candidates themselves see any problem with this?

posted by: ShadowBoxer on July 16, 2018  9:32am

The issue is that the presumed nominee doesn’t know something an average Joe Voter would.  And the Democratic party preferred empty seats to average Joe Voters in them.  I was there, and absolutely no real person off the street was allowed in the event.  This is elitism run amok, and most of the comments here are oblivious, or worse defending it.  If one looks at the shoreline of Connecticut, from Greenwich on one end to Stonington on the other, you will see a swath of blue.  The Gold Coast used to be very Republican but now Westport is among the most liberal towns.  But if you look at the Route 8 corridor, from Shelton, Derby, Naugatuck up to Torrington, you will see a swath of red whereas it used to be very union and Democratic. So, in my short lifetime the Democratic party went from being the party of the working man to the elite.  They used to play the John Cougar Melloncamp song “Little Pink Houses” but now that image is associated with the GOP.  I am not putting a value judgment on it, as the only constant is change in life, but its a fact.  And I raised the issue of average voters not being allowed to attend to the campaigns because I thought it was tone dead for the Democrats to not allow average voters, whom they seem allergic too.  It is fine to get a bunch of urban youth to shout outside but then they couldn’t come inside and sit down even though there were a lot of empty seats.  Does no one see a problem in that??  One nominee doesn’t know the price of milk and the other went to prison for drinking $900 bottles of wine on $25,000 oriental carpets.  I just find it rather…ironic if nothing else.

posted by: cellardoor on July 17, 2018  11:10am

Shadowboxer, I believe you are the oblivious one here.  One candidate is a successful businessman who wants to use his time and talent in the service of this state.  One candidate is a convicted felon who sought to defraud citizens of this state.  The latter candidate may have “paid his debt to society” and “learned lessons”, which might put him back on the roll of voters but does not make him a suitable candidate to be governor.  Foolish “gotcha” questions like what is the price of a gallon of milk (depends on where you shop, and whether or not it is organic, or lactose free, if you really want to get into it) obscure the substantive issues, and it is very worrisome that the press chose to focus on this.  This is how we wound up with another malignantly narcissistic, amoral, debauched grifter in the White House, and I can only hope that his supporters in 2016 have paid attention.  If you wish only to rant about “elites” (and they would be: people who read, who insist on fact-checking? who care about a candidate’s criminal record?),  then I wonder whether your NHI handle might not more aptly be “Sock Puppet”.