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Connecticut primary candidates on controversial issues: abortion, gun control, inflation

Some are split on these topics and others in agreement, but it's certain they'll be influencing voters Aug. 9.

HARTFORD, Conn. — There are controversial issues on Connecticut’s primary ballot this year like gun control, abortion and the economy.

In the wake of multiple recent mass shootings, Connecticut legislators are taking the reigns of the conversation.

Friday, the U.S. House passed legislation banning certain semi-automatic guns, but the bill isn’t likely to make it through the U.S. Senate.

RELATED: 'More has to be done': Biden celebration of new gun law clouded by latest shooting

In June President Joe Biden signed the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” into law. It was introduced by four legislators, one of them Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.

“After the tragedy at Sandy Hook 10 years ago, we’ve made some changes that are saving lives,” said Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Connecticut). “Our gun-related deaths, our gun-related shootings are dramatically less than they are in states like Texas and Georgia. I think Chris Murphy reminded his fellow senators of that.”

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Some Republican candidates are in favor of stricter gun laws. Themis Klarides, endorsed party favorite for U.S. Senate, says she would have voted for the recent legislation, adding she believes in common sense gun control as well as putting money toward mental health and school safety resources.

Her two challengers call themselves pro-second amendment. Leora Levy says this issue will not be solved by “infringing on law-abiding citizens” and Peter Lumaj adds he is in support of potentially arming teachers.

“Every country that doesn't have a second amendment, somehow the government winds up being totalitarian at the end,” Lumaj said. “I've seen that movie, my family have seen that movie and we didn't like the ending of it, and that's why I support the Second Amendment.”

RELATED: Ahead of primary, Republican U.S. Senate candidates split on contentious issues

Other issues this year are abortion and the economy.

It’s been over a month since the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe V. Wade and now abortion access is a main issue in Connecticut's primary races.

For over three decades abortion has been protected in the state, but Democrats are still putting it front and center in their campaigns.

In July, Lamont–Democrat incumbent in the November general election–invited businesses to come to Connecticut and leave states with abortion restrictions or bans.

“Let’s face it, if the Republicans take the U.S. Senate, they're going to try and outlaw Roe v. Wade across the country,” he said. “We have protected a woman's right to choose. We've done that through legislation, legislations as good as the next governor and the next group of legislators.”

Republicans disagree–state GOP leadership says the Roe decision doesn’t affect abortion policies in Connecticut.

Lamont’s Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski calls abortion a non-issue.

“Our positions are very, very similar on the social issues,” Stefanowski said about himself and Lamont. “With respect to Roe v. Wade, I think Connecticut law is right where it should be. I support a woman's right to choose.”

The gubernatorial candidates aren’t the only ones talking about abortion. The issue is dividing the three U.S. Senate hopefuls as well.

Klarides is pro-choice and says she would vote to codify reproductive rights into federal law. Her opponents Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj are pro-life.

In the state treasurer’s race, Democrat candidate Dita Bhargava is also campaigning on investing in pro-choice businesses in Connecticut.

Republicans are trying to focus on other issues, though, like record-high inflation, hoping their emphasis on the economy will resonate more with voters than abortion.

A May Quinnipiac University poll shows the economy is the most important issue for 35% of voters, followed by taxes and abortion in third with just 11%.

With inflation at a 40-year high of 9.1%, Republicans say the Democrats aren’t doing enough to fix it.

“People are really struggling right now,” Stefanowski said. “I think there's a lot we can do as a state to help that. I don't think the current governor is doing as much as he could to help and we're very focused on making it more affordable for people to live in Connecticut.”

“What I can do as governor is make life a little more affordable during an inflationary period,” countered Lamont. “We got a $650 million tax cut, really focused on the middle class, not an income tax cut for folks at the top middle class making the difference for you.”

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