HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Just days away from the Hartford mayor primary election, two Democrats are calling out the party’s frontrunner over comments made at a fundraiser in Torrington.

“All of us are bought into it because Hartford is all of your city,” Democratic mayoral candidate Arunan Arulampalam can be heard saying in a video. “It’s our capital city. We all have a say in what the city of Hartford looks like.”

Those remarks, recorded on video and shared online, have sparked outrage in Hartford. 

The above video is from the 6 p.m. newscast on Sept. 6, 2023.

“He told that audience, even though you cannot vote in Hartford, if you contribute to my campaign, you can have some say in how Hartford looks,” said Eric Coleman, who is on the ballot for the Democratic primary.

Making a joint statement on Wednesday, mayoral candidates Coleman and Nick Lebron maintained that “say” belongs to city residents and no one else.

“We no longer need to be sold to the highest bidder,” Lebron, a Democrat who is still running for mayor, but did not qualify for the Democratic primary, said. “Our future can’t afford it. The ‘for sale’ sign is coming down. Hartford is not for sale.”

They added that Arulampalam’s comments are different than garnering support by finding allies in other communities.

“There was a quid pro quo,” Lebron said. “Saying, ‘If you give dollars, you can have a say.'”

Arulampalam has been endorsed by the Hartford Democratic Town Committee and Mayor Luke Bronin, who was at the fundraising event.

“This fundraiser in Torrington was a gathering of committed Democrats who care about their capital city,” Bronin told News 8. “Arunan is a candidate for mayor who’s doing what candidates should do: raise support that allows him to get his message out to the people of Hartford.”

News 8 reached out to Arulampalam’s team for comment. His campaign manager, Cristian Corza, released this statement:

“It’s clear that campaign silly season is now in full swing as we see two Democrats knowingly spreading falsehoods as they attack their party’s overwhelmingly endorsed candidate. The facts speak for themselves — Arunan has received more individual grassroots donors from the City of Hartford than any other candidate in this race, and he has received the most support from Democratic donors in this race as well. Our community is responding to his positive message for a vibrant and economically robust Hartford, which is a stark contrast from the desperate display put on today by these two candidates.”

Arulampalam will face off against Coleman and Democrat John Fonfara in the primary election.

“I’m going to remain focused on my campaign, my message, on hearing more from the voters in Hartford,” Fonfara said when asked about Arulampalam’s comments.

Lebron, who did not qualify for the primary, will still be on the November General Election ballot.

At a mayoral forum held by the Greater Hartford Labor Coalition on Wednesday, six candidates for mayor answered questions from city residents. About 100 people attended the forum at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Albany Avenue. 

Members of the labor coalition and others asked about education, labor, housing and social equality. 

LeBron addressed the comments made at the Torrington fundraiser twice during the forum. In one instance he said, “I’ve always said Hartford is not for sale so that for sale sign comes down with the LeBron administration.” 

Arulampalam addressed their claims after the forum, saying: 

“These kinds of desperate and baseless attacks is exactly what citizens of Hartford don’t want to see. I have a built a really broad base of support, I’ve got the most Hartford contributors in this race, I’ve got the most small dog contributors in this race, I’ve got the most Democratic contributors in this race. To spread lies and misinformation is really disappointing.” 

The forum was held to decide who the labor coalition will endorse as mayor. 

Voters who attended said it was informative. 

“Very passionate I would say. I would say this is very energetic compared to a lot of the forums. A lot more people were able to ask questions that weren’t prepared which is good,” said voter Thomas Kenney. 

The primary election is on Sept. 12.