NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8 hosted a primary debate for the three Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate on Tuesday night.
These candidates, Themis Klarides, Peter Lumaj, and Leora Levy, were asked to share their views on the economy, education, gun legislation, abortion, and contraception. All three said, what this comes down to, is who can beat sitting Senator Richard Blumenthal come November.
All three candidates agreed they support the second amendment, the state must become more affordable for families, and measures have to be taken to make schools safer.
“We protect the president with guns, the vice president with guns, the governor with guns,” said Peter Lumaj, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. “Our children, our most precious commodity, it has a piece of paper that says ‘gun-free’ zone. We have to do better than that.”
Where the candidates disagreed was on the topic of abortion. Klarides said she is pro-choice, while Lumaj and Levy said they are pro-life. Lumaj said Levy “flipped” on this position, but she said it was her own life experience that shifted her perspective.
“I am pro-life, I am committed to life beginning at conception,” said Leora Levy, a Republican running for U.S. Senate.
Levy also found herself in the hot seat for previous campaign contributions made by her husband decades ago.
“I don’t blame you for the rate hikes at Eversource,” Levy said to Klarides, whose husband is an executive at Eversource. “What your husband does is what your husband does.”
“I think you should check your records more carefully,” Klarides said.
Following the debate, we asked all three candidates why voters should vote for them.”
“We don’t have time for on-the-job training here,” said Klarides. “We need somebody who knows how a legislature works. Knows when it’s time to talk to the other side. That stuff matters. We need a proven fighter, a proven leader. That’s me.”
“If the primary voters want a leftist, who claims to be a Republican, that would be Themis,” said Lumaj. “But, if they want a true unwavering conservative, that from 2010-present. I’m the true conservative in the race.”
“I’m the only principled, conservative, outsider,” said Levy. “I’m not a career politician. I am not a career candidate… The voters have let Mr. Lumaj know what they think of him many times,” said Candidate for U.S. Senate Leora Levy.
We also reached out to Sen. Blumenthal’s campaign for comment but have not heard back.
The primary is on August 9th.