With just 15 days to the November elections, the two major party candidates running for Connecticut attorney general are invoking the name of a man not running for that office as they look to win votes.
That man: President Donald Trump.
Hatfield, meanwhile, has opined that Tong’s dislike for Trump’s policies could hurt him if he’s elected and has to work with the administration on a variety of issues.
For Green Party candidate Peter Goselin, neither candidate is talking about the issues important to Connecticut votes. Goselin, who has made education reform and addressing police brutality the cornerstone of his campaign, Monday called Hatfield “Trump light” and Tong “[Gov. Dannel] Malloy light.”
For the first and only time this election season, all three candidates will appear together at a debate. The one-hour event will kick off at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Hartford campus of the University of Connecticut.
In interviews with the Connecticut Law Tribune Monday, all three candidates talked about why they believe voters should choose them come Nov. 6.
As she has throughout her campaign, the 46-year-old Hatfield, who is on an unpaid leave of absence as a prosecutor, said Tong “will be an activist attorney general.”
“He has campaigned on that,” Hatfield said. “He has campaigned on being a firewall to the [Trump] administration. I am saying there are times we will need to work with the administration, such as with the opioid crisis, to deal with the crisis.”
Hatfield added: “For an attorney general candidate to say he will be a firewall and will really cut off communications to the administration and be hostile to the administration just because of political party is a detriment to the people of Connecticut.”
Tong said, if elected, he’ll work with the administration if it is for the benefit of the state, but stands by his fierce criticism of Trump.
“I will be the firewall because Trump is leading an unprecedented attack on Connecticut families,” said the 45-year-old Tong, the co-chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and of counsel at Finn, Dixon & Herling. “I won’t stand with Donald Trump as he tries to eliminate our health care, and I won’t stand with Donald Trump as he attacks women and the disabled. Sue Hatfield stands with Donald Trump and I don’t.”
Tong and Hatfield also disagree on who has the best credentials for the job.
“I have more courtroom and state courtroom experience and have brought more cases to trial and verdicts than the other candidates,” said Hatfield, who holds an advanced degree in taxation and has municipal finance experience, which she called “invaluable to the state Bond Commission, where the attorney general has a vote.”
Hatfield also said her nearly decadelong history as a nurse “is important because of the mental health issues we have in the state.”
Tong, on the other hand, said, “I have the most civil litigation experience, certainly much more than Sue Hatfield who has no civil litigation experience. It’s not just civil litigation experience, but experience in major civil cases and multijurisdictional and major exposure cases, much like what the attorney general handles everyday. Sue Hatfield is trying to actively deceive voters and misrepresent what the attorney general does. The attorney general has almost no criminal jurisdiction. She is trying to trick voters into thinking the attorney general does criminal law.”
On specific issues, Goselin said he’d advocate for a statewide system of educational funding and “completely do away with the reliance on local property taxes. With a state-funded system, you will prioritize educational funding where it is most needed.”
Tong favors having a civil rights division within the office and said he’ll fight to keep the Affordable Care Act from being totally dismantled. Hatfield said she favors creating an attorney general’s office “that is not hostile toward business. [Attorney General] George Jepsen has done that. My opponent will be an activist attorney general and the people don’t want that.”