The Connecticut Republican and Democratic parties have taken different approaches to getting their gubernatorial candidates’ messages out to the public.

While the state GOP has opted for more traditional, large debates for their candidates, Democrats have instead hosted forums with smaller crowds and no time limits for answering questions organized by local Democratic Town Committees and regional organizations. Asked about the different formats, Chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party J.R. Romano accused the Democrats of “simply talking to themselves” rather than speaking to larger audiences. Because the forums do not involve much media or coverage, Romano said, Democrats end up talking to other Democrats rather than to a larger, bipartisan audience.

But Communication Director for the Connecticut Democrats Christina Polizzi said the forums have received press coverage and given candidates an opportunity to talk to voters about local issues. She criticized the state GOP, which has charged an admission fee for its debates, for using the events as a “fundraising opportunity.” Democrats, Polizzi said, do not charge for the forums.

“We’re more concerned with making sure our candidates get their message out to voters,” she added.

Susan Bysiewicz, the former three-term Connecticut secretary of state who recently launched an exploratory gubernatorial campaign, said she believes state residents “should have an opportunity to learn as much about the candidates, their records and what they stand for.”

According to Polizzi, Democrats have held a forum roughly once a week over the last month, The forums will continue through March, she added.

The Connecticut GOP has held three traditional debates this election season, with two more planned for March and April.

Bysiewicz told the News that the 12 weeks between the  Democratic convention, on May 19, and the Democratic primary, on Aug. 14, will give voters “plenty of time” to make a decision.

“I am confident that voters will take the time to make an intelligent, informed decision, both on August 14th and on November 6th,” she said, adding that she will continue to attend “hundreds” of public meetings across the state.

On both sides of the race, crowded fields of candidates are jockeying for position. For Republicans, the aim is to turn a blue state red despite its swelling anti–President Donald Trump sentiment, while the Democrats are seeking gain seats despite Gov. Dannel Malloy’s low approval ratings.

Asked about how the national political climate will affect the gubernatorial race, Romano noted that Malloy’s popularity numbers are far lower than Trump’s.

The next Republican debate will be held on March 7 in New Canaan.

Ashna Gupta |