NORWALK, Conn. – U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) and Republican challenger Harry Arora met Thursday for their second debate, this time in Norwalk.
The contentious back and forth early Thursday in the Norwalk Inn was sponsored by the Business Council of Fairfield County, the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Fairfield County and the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, and focused more on economic issues than Sunday’s League of Women Voters’ brawl in Wilton.
Video by Harold Cobin at end of story.
Asked right off the bat about economic opportunity in Connecticut, Himes said Fairfield County is the economic engine of the state, with major companies such as Indeed.com headquartered here. Continued investment in transportation infrastructure is needed he said, highlighting what he has described as a strength of his 10 years in Congress, the funding he’s brought back for transportation issues.
“Net-net, we’re losing jobs,” Arora countered, arguing for deregulation with Himes referring in reply to the “brutal crisis in 2008” and touting his work in regulating the banking industry.
The country needs to invest in business formation, Arora said, going on to allege that Himes voted against bills that would have brought business Connecticut. In response, Himes said that the unemployment rate has dropped here, with Arora replying, “Things are not great here.”
Interstate 95 is more congested than it was when Himes took office and there are less seats available on the trains during the morning rush hour, Arora said, with Himes advocating for an infrastructure bank as a resource for improvements and Arora countering that revenue is needed for a fund like that.
Other parts of the country are doing better, and companies are leaving Connecticut, Arora said.
Himes took exception to Arora’s later claim that he hasn’t kept his promises, pointing to federal funding for the Walk Bridge and for Washington Village.
Arora called tolls a regressive tax that impacts residents who make the least amount of money, with Himes countering that every state around Connecticut has tolls and Connecticut residents are paying for roads in New Jersey and New York, while residents of those states contributing nothing here.
“I’m sure there’s $2 trillion not being spent on infrastructure” thanks to the Republican tax bill, Himes said, and Arora attacked the figure, which came from the Congressional Budget Office, as being inaccurate.
A question about election security zeroed in on possible Russian interference, with Arora shifting the conversation to “information warfare,” alleging that large media outlets try to tip the scales to candidates they prefer. Himes called that a right wing trope and called newspapers a private enterprise, with the New York Times choosing to lean left and the Washington Post leaning right. Arora said he knows CNN is ignoring him out of a partisan agenda because he “feels it.”
The pair are set to focus on foreign policy in their third and final debate at 7 p.m. Monday in UCONN Stamford’s GenRe Auditorium, located at 1 University Place, Stamford.