Chris Shays loves to debate.
The former U.S. Representative from Bridgeport is preparing for the first two debates against Republican Linda McMahon of Greenwich in their battle for the U.S. Senate seat held by Joe Lieberman. The first debate will be Thursday, April 19 in Norwich, and it will be moderated by longtime political reporter Ray Hackett, who is now the editorial page editor of The Norwich Bulletin. Three other Republicans – Kie Westby, Brian K. Hill, and Peter Lumaj – are also scheduled to participate.
The second debate will be Sunday, April 22 on “Face The State” on Channel 3 and will be moderated by the host, Dennis House.
The upcoming contests prompted Shays to recall his debating career Wednesday as he waited in downtown Hartford for an appearance by Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney at a printing business.
“I would like 10 debates,” Shays told Capitol Watch.
Even when Shays was a longtime incumbent in lower Fairfield County, he tried to hold as many debates as possible. While running against upstart Democrat Diane Farrell, who was trying to increase her name recognition, Shays agreed to nine debates. He defeated Farrell twice in two tough races before later losing to Democrat Jim Himes of Greenwich in 2008.
Shays said his highest total was 26 debates against Thom Serrani in their memorable battle for Stamford mayor in 1983. Serrani won and eventually served four two-year terms before deciding against seeking reelection in 1991. Shays said the number of debates was particularly unusual, as was their relationship between a Republican and a Democrat.
“We were really good friends,” Shays said.