The state Republican Party turned its attention on Wednesday night to the 2018 governor's race.
The GOP held its first debate for candidates, as the state looks ahead at a new governor in office next year.
Gov. Dannel Malloy won't seek a third term and Republicans are lining up to try to succeed him.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people packed the auditorium at Windsor High School.
“There's so much anxiety over what's happened in our state,” said JR Romano, chairman of the state’s Republican Party.
“The ‘USS Connecticut’ is sinking. This may be our last chance to create a better future,” said former U.S. comptroller general Dave Walker.
He and Fairfield Attorney Peter Lumaj both voiced their concerns on Wednesday night.
“They have too much money in Hartford. Money is not a problem there. It is spending,” Lumaj said.
State Representative Prasad Srinivasan and State Senator Toni Boucher expressed the desire to cut government spending and change the state tax code.
“Our agencies have to run efficiently,” Srinivasan said.
“What we need to do is really encourage and expand the business sector,” Boucher said.
“I think if a large corporation wants to come invest money in Connecticut, bring their money and employ people it's their right to do it,” said Steve Obsitnik.
Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik and former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst said regulation is the problem
“The regulatory environment in this state hampers the ability to reduce spending,” Herbst said.
Stamford CFO Michael Handler stressed the need to get state finances in order.
“We have got to get back to doing good things in our state. We cannot do it in a financial crisis,” Handler said.
When it comes to the legalization of recreational marijuana use, they all oppose it.
They offer differing opinions on topics, such as further gun control and the state's approach to casinos.
They're topics Romano said he is excited to hear play out over the next 11 months, right up until election day.
“I think the sooner that our message of how to solve the state's problems gets out there the better off we're going to be,” Romano said.
Republicans said 11 candidates are currently raising a significant amount of money.
There are a number of Democrats who have also entered the race.
The state conventions are in May and the election is Nov. 6.
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