NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In just a few short weeks voters will head to the polls and choose Connecticut’s next governor.

A new poll out on Tuesday has Gov. Ned Lamont with a 15-point lead, according to a News 8/The Hill/Emerson College Polling survey earlier this month.

But during their first election forum of the cycle, Republican Bob Stefanowski and Independent candidate Rob Hotaling showed they have some chops.

The forum was streamed on NBC CT and Telemundo. All three candidates presented their vision for Connecticut, placing their new ideas on the table.

It’s the first election forum for the men who want to be the next governor of Connecticut.

On taxes, spending, and inflation

Stefanowski: “It’s unconscionable that we’re sitting on $6 billion when people are out there right now only filling half of the oil tank because they need food.”

Lamont: “His latest budget idea is to gut the rainy day fund, and this is the exact wrong time to be playing games with how we’re saving our money to make sure when there’s a recession we do not have to raise taxes and we do not have to cut education spending.”

Hotaling: “Inflation’s really controlled by the Fed which can increase or decrease rates, and it’s affected by monetary and fiscal policy. I agree to a certain extent that we should pay down pension debts, but we should use some of those funds to close the achievement gap and make strategic investments in our infrastructure.”

On abortion

Stefanowski: “There’s no difference there. We’re going to support a woman’s right to choose. End of story.”

Then, as Stefanowski looked at the governor, “You shouldn’t be trying to scare the women of Connecticut that it’s going to change when I win. You really should stop it and you should focus on the economy.”

In response, Lamont said, “Like to think you’re scaring the women of Connecticut? Actions speak louder than words. Bob, you had a choice to make just a few months ago. You could have donated money to the pro-choice Senate candidate here in Connecticut. Instead, you maximized your donations to the two candidates who said they’re…”

Stefanowski interrupted, “Going to do it. I have to try to.”

Lamont responded with “Can I finish my comment? They pledged to outlaw a woman’s right to choose when she goes down to Washington, D.C.”

Stefanowski countered that giving to a candidate doesn’t mean the donor supports every position.

“You gave to the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock, who is a Second Amendment hero,” he said. “He opposes assault weapons. He opposes universal background checks. “

The Independent candidate wasn’t given a chance to answer the abortion question.

“I support a women’s choice period,” he said later. “End of story. There’s no debate there.”

On transportation and tolls

Lamont: “I asked legislators to come in. Do you have a better idea? They had no other ideas. We want that solved now. We’ve got that solved a highway user fee. “

Hotaling: “We really need to look at what’s not proper, which would be entry exit toll points. Yes, it’s not very popular, but guess what? It would get the job done. Right now, our neighbors, New York and Massachusetts, just drive through Connecticut, and 40% of our traffic is on a free ride. Meanwhile, they have entry-exit toll points.”

Stefanowski: “A toll is a tax. We’re already the second highest tax in the nation if this governor gets re-elected. Most countries and states across the world have privatized their airports. It takes all the burden off of us. There’s a lot we can do. “

After, the Independent candidate tackled financing a campaign against two millionaires.

“They’re both multimillionaires,” he said. “Last time I checked, I think Governor Lamont makes something like $6.8 million in capital gains and dividends. What’s the average person even understands? I think it makes him a little disconnected from the average voter. I’m a working guy.”

The Democratic incumbent took another swipe at his challengers.

“I felt like I was talking to two candidates from ten, 20 years ago, how cavalier they were about raiding the rainy day fund and, you know, buy now, pay later,” Lamont said.

Stefanowski: “I wish the governor would do more than one other debate because I think it’s pretty clear when you go through a debate like that, who has a better plan?”

All three candidates will square off in a final debate. News 8 and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities will be hosting it at the Mohegan Sun next month.