Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti has backed out of tonight's debate. An event organizer says Lauretti said he had a fundraiser to attend; whether the fundraiser was for his campaign of something else was not immediately known.
Lauretti has a Facebook page, Lauretti for Governor, where he's been announcing fundraisers. There is nothing on the event calendar for Feb. 16.
Our original report follows:
The public will get their first look at the GOP contenders for governor when five Republican candidates face off during a debate Sunday evening.
Hosted by the Brookfield Republican Town Committee, the Republican Gubernatorial Debate will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Brookfield High School Auditorium.
Republican candidates participating are:John McKinney — An eight-term state senator from Fairfield, he has been the state Senate Minority Leader since 2007.
Toni Boucher — A 12-year representative of a Fairfield County Senatorial District, Boucher lives in Wilton and is from Naugatuck.
Joe Visconti — A former member of the West Hartford Town Council, Visconti ran unsuccessfully in 2008 against U.S. Rep. John Larson for the First Congressional District.
Mark Boughton — The longest serving mayor in Danbury history, Boughton was Tom Foley's running mate in 2010.
Mark Lauretti — Connecticut's longest serving mayor, currently in his 12th term in Shelton, this is Lauretti's first official run for higher office.
Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman who is the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, will not be participating in the debate due to a personal conflict, according to event organizers.
Foley secured the GOP's endorsement in 2010, but lost to Malloy by a vote margin of less than one percent. Malloy has not announced whether he will seek re-election.
Each candidate will be given 2 minutes for an opening statement and, at the end, 2 and-a-half minutes for a closing statement.
There will be 15 questions — each candidate will have 3 questions directed to him/her. The candidate to whom the question is directed to will have 2 minutes for response. Opponents will have 1 minute for rebuttal.The debate panel will consist of the following members of the media:
- WLAD Radio — Jillian Mauro
- New Haven Register/Torrington Register-Citizen/Middletown Press — Ben Doody
- The Patch Network — Gary Jeanfaivre
- The News-Times (Hearst Connecticut Media) — Dirk Perrefort
The debate will be filmed for Community Vision 21 – local access in Newtown — and organizers said all Connecticut press outlets have been invited to cover it.