Gen­der gap plays role in race for gov­er­nor

Greenwich Time - - NEWS - By Mark Pazniokas

Repub­li­can Bob Ste­fanowski and Demo­crat Ned La­mont are wag­ing an asym­met­ri­cal fight for the votes of women in Con­necti­cut’s race for gov­er­nor, one in which Repub­li­cans are try­ing to keep vot­ers tightly fo­cused on the state econ­omy and Democrats are mak­ing broader ap­peals over state and na­tional is­sues.

Fe­male vot­ers, who are more nu­mer­ous and tend to turn out at higher rates than men, are a prized de­mo­graphic in ev­ery election cy­cle, but po­ten­tially more so at a time when Washington is riven over the con­fir­ma­tion of Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh, a con­ser­va­tive seen as hos­tile to abor­tion rights and ac­cused of sev­eral long-ago sex­ual as­saults.

Buoyed by a new Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll that shows him with a huge ad­van­tage among women, La­mont and his run­ning mate, Su­san Bysiewicz, held a news con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day to pro­mote what they called “a strate­gic agenda to em­power, sup­port and pro­vide equal op­por­tu­nity to woman in ev­ery facet of their lives.”

La­mont and Bysiewicz re­it­er­ated their sup­port for a paid fam­ily and med­i­cal leave pro­gram that stalled in the Gen­eral Assem­bly, a $15 min­i­mum wage and greater ac­cess to child care. They also called for pre­serv­ing fund­ing for sex­ual as­sault and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ser­vices and ex­tend­ing the crim­i­nal statute of lim­i­ta­tions for sex­ual as­saults.

“We’ve got to make sure that busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment ac­com­mo­date the chang­ing work place and make sure it’s eas­ier for women to work and also to take care of things at home, the same thing for the fathers,” La­mont said dur­ing the event, which took place at an in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany in Glas­ton­bury.

On Tues­day night, Ste­fanowski at­tended a more ca­sual event held by Con­necti­cut Women for Change, a coali­tion or­ga­nized late in the cam­paign sea­son to build sup­port among women for Ste­fanowski, or at least to dis­cour­age de­fec­tions from the GOP over the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion and his po­ten­tial in­flu­ence on abor­tion rights.

Over cock­tails at Lenny and Joe’s Fish Tale, a restau­rant on Long Wharf in New Haven, the Ka­vanaugh con­fir­ma­tion didn’t seem to come up.

“It’s not part of the con­ver­sa­tion,” said Le­ora Levy, a Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber and or­ga­nizer of the coali­tion. “It has no part in the con­ver­sa­tion, and it is only the peo­ple who want to dis­tract, who have no mes­sage, no pos­i­tive mes­sage of their own, who are try­ing to make it a part of the con­ver­sa­tion. We are laser­fo­cused on fix­ing Con­necti­cut, pe­riod.”

Her mes­sage to any woman who leaves the GOP over Ka­vanaugh is sim­ple: “I’m telling them they have made a mis­take. Ka­vanaugh doesn’t af­fect their lives. Ka­vanaugh, like ev­ery per­son, whether male or fe­male, is en­ti­tled to the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence.”

Ste­fanowski, who also reg­u­larly pro­nounces his cam­paign as be­ing “laser­fo­cused” on fi­nan­cial is­sues, de­clined to say dur­ing a re­cent de­bate be­fore the con­fir­ma­tion if Ka­vanaugh de­served a place on the court.

“I’m go­ing to pass on that,” Ste­fanowski said. “It’s a fed­eral is­sue.”

Ste­fanowski min­gled and briefly ad­dressed the au­di­ence, which in­cluded old friends from North Haven where he and his wife, Amy, an­other leader of the coali­tion, both grew up. Ste­fanowski, whose most re­cent pri­vate-sec­tor job was chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of DFC Global, which of­fers pay­day loans and other al­ter­na­tive fi­nan­cial ser­vices, told them he al­ways has in­cluded women on his lead­er­ship teams.

“I have al­ways val­ued di­ver­sity,” Ste­fanowski said. “Ev­ery one of my man­age­ment teams over the years, I’ve had 50 per­cent di­ver­sity. I do that for a rea­son. I want to sur­round my­self with peo­ple who have dif­fer­ent opinions. I want to so­licit that opin­ion. If I hang around with peo­ple that are like me, I’m not go­ing to learn a lot.”

Among women likely to vote, Ste­fanowski trailed La­mont by 22 per­cent­age points. His ad­van­tage among men was only five points.

La­mont has tried to build on the gen­der gap by cam­paign­ing fre­quently with Bysiewicz, a for­mer sec­re­tary of the state. She of­fers con­stant re­minders that Ste­fanowski’s run­ning mate is Joe Markley, a con­ser­va­tive state sen­a­tor.

“We want to make sure that women have ac­cess to health care, to re­pro­duc­tive health care and to birth con­trol,” Bysiewicz said Wed­nes­day. “And you can count on Ned and I to stand up and de­fend Con­necti­cut’s Roe v. Wade law.”

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