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Connecticut Mirror Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas on the final push toward Election Day

Chion Wolf
Connecticut Mirror co-founder and Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas


John Henry Smith

For Connecticut Public Radio I'm John Henry Smith. Next Tuesday, you, me and 2.2 million of our Connecticut neighbors -- or a significant portion of them we hope -- will cast ballots to decide the winners of contested races across the state. Yes, friends, election day is nigh and here to say hi with his last-second thoughts is Connecticut Mirror co-founder and Capitol Bureau Chief Mark Pazniokas. Mark, I understand you went to a very interesting press conference featuring the Republican challenger for governor Bob Stefanowski.

Mark Pazniokas

Yes, Bob Stephen Stefanowski had a press conference in which he tried to make two very different points. He used Renee Coleman-Mitchell, whom the governor fired in the early days of the COVID pandemic as the Commissioner of Public Health, to attack the governor's insistence that Connecticut did a pretty good job on COVID. And, you know, Renee Coleman-Mitchell is a Black woman of a certain age, and she has alleged that she was let go for reasons of race and age and not performance. So, you know, this was an unusual press conference coming just five days before people go to the polls, and it did have a little bit of a feel of, you know, let's throw stuff at the wall and see what works. At this point even by Bob Stefanowski's polling, he trails the governor by a significant amount. His polling insists it's a six point difference. There are other public polling that shows it's double digit lead for the Democratic governor.

John Henry Smith

Let's talk about the U.S. Senate race. The latest poll by Emerson College not only shows the Leora Levy trailing Richard Blumenthal by a lot, but it also shows that 24% of those polled have never heard of the Leora Levy, then you take that and then you then you consider that she looked pretty far behind Themis Klarides in the primary, and we see how that turned out, so any chance he pulls the upset this time again?

Mark Pazniokas

Well, big difference between this and the primary is Donald J. Trump. On basically the eve of that primary, he endorsed Leora, and that was a game changer. You know, that is something that was a huge help in a Republican primary. Not so much in the general election. In fact, she has taken pains not to talk about former President Trump in the general election. The other difference is, Levy, has been off television for a long time. Her fundraising was terrible, she had no money to go forward after she won a very decisive victory in that primary. It was a good win for her. But then she went dark, as we say, you know, she was not on television until recently, because she simply did not have the money to do so. So that's why you see that polling number that so many people have either never heard of her, or, or they at least don't know enough to express an opinion.

John Henry Smith

Mark, fill us in on some of the things you're expecting to see. Or you're expecting some of the candidates to do in this last weekend of campaigning, particularly in the governor's race, but in others?

Mark Pazniokas

Well, the Democratic plan is quite simple. It's really about getting out the vote, when you have a candidate who is the incumbent and has high name recognition, and that his party is the majority party, the name of the game is really to get folks out to the polls, you know, you're really not in the position of trying to persuade the undecided at this point. It's really just getting out your folks on Tuesday. You know, the Republicans are still trying to reach out to the undecided to reach out to that very huge voting bloc that is unaffiliated. So that's what we'll see over the weekend. And you're gonna see, you know, candidates, perhaps focusing on some of the areas where it might be also helpful to down ballot people. Today, for example, the governor is campaigning in the Fifth Congressional District where Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is engaged in a very close battle with Republican George Logan. So you have these kind of synergistic efforts is well.

John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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