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In congressional debate, Himes, Stevenson sound off on abortion access, soaring education costs

From left: Incumbent Democrat Jim Himes (D) and Republican Jayme Stevenson, running in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District debate October, 13, 2022, at the David Levinson Theater at Norwalk Community College.
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
Incumbent Democrat Jim Himes (left) and Republican Jayme Stevenson, running in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District, debate on Oct. 13, 2022, in the David Levinson Theater at Norwalk Community College.

The two candidates for Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District agree that it’s important to protect access to abortion. But during a debate Thursday night in Norwalk, Republican challenger Jayme Stevenson said incumbent Democrat Jim Himes hasn’t done enough to codify Roe v. Wade protections in federal law.

“If you’re looking to make a change in Washington ... you start by electing Republicans that have common sense and who understand the importance of these issues,” Stevenson said. “As a woman, I know these issues. I’m passionate about these issues.”

Himes said Republicans have led the efforts to roll back access to abortion.

“‘Hutzpah’ is a Republican candidate attacking a Democrat for not codifying Roe v. Wade when the Republican Party – and they make no bones about this, this is not a Democrat talking – the Republican Party has been engaged in a two-generation, 50-year-long effort to reverse Roe v. Wade, and they succeeded,” Himes said.

If elected, Stevenson said she can moderate her party’s positions on abortion.

Addressing higher education costs

Both candidates agreed that more Americans need to consider alternatives to four-year colleges as costs skyrocket.

Himes, a graduate of Harvard, said too many people ignore the value of training offered in apprenticeship programs.

“I think we need to focus a lot more on the community colleges, on the apprenticeship programs that give young people – for whom university isn’t necessarily the right thing – the ability to be firmly in the middle class knowing that their jobs are not at risk of being exported abroad,” Himes said.

Stevenson said federal student loan programs are inflating prices at colleges.

“There’s no incentive for four-year institutions to keep their prices at a reasonable and affordable level for students,” she said.

Stevenson said the Biden administration’s decision to forgive some student loan debt is not the right way to contain costs.

About the candidates

Himes joined the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009. He has served on the Committee on Financial Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Himes was born in Peru, attended Harvard University and is a former Rhodes Scholar.

Stevenson served for 10 years as Darien’s first selectman. She said she will “bring bi-partisan solutions to Congress” and work to restore and preserve freedoms that “allow every American to pursue happiness.”

Video: Watch the debate

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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