WATERBURY — The candidates for Connecticut’s most competitive congressional seat used their final debate on Thursday to highlight their visions for rescuing voters from the coronavirus crisis, and to heighten the contrast between their leadership styles.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, a one-term Democrat favored by leading election forecasters to win re-election in the 5th District, highlighted her record as a uniter who won’t allow politics to decide who she fights for.

David X. Sullivan, a Republican challenger from New Fairfield who has raised more money than the previous two GOP candidates for the 5th District combined, highlighted his resume as a Reagan Republican who believes reducing government dependency puts the American Dream in reach for more people.

“Of all the representatives Connecticut has in Congress we have one voice — a Democratic voice that is moving farther and farther to the left,” Sullivan said during a late morning Zoom debate sponsored by the Waterbury Regional Chamber. “Voting with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time is not leadership, it’s voting with the pack.”

Sullivan was referring to Hayes’ voting record as a freshman congresswoman being in sync with Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, who is often a target of conservatives. Hayes said Thursday she was proud of her voting record, because the legislative priorities of the Democratic-controlled House were the priorities of 5th District voters.

Hayes, who won the 2016 national Teacher of the Year award teaching social studies in Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School, was among the women of color elected in 2018 that gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives.

“I never saw myself first as a Democrat — I’m a teacher,” Hayes said on Thursday. “I think change is good — and we need fresh faces and views — and that is what I bring to congress as a teacher.”

Hayes and Sullivan are in a race to represent much of western and part of central Connecticut with a minor party candidate from Newtown named Bruce Walczak, who has participated in most of the candidates’ forums and debates in October.

Hayes, who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, has raised five times the money Sullivan has received in contributions, according the latest campaign finance disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission. Sullivan, who is running without the promotion of the National Republican Congressional Committee, entered October with $107,000 to spend,

In contrast, Hayes began the month with $1.49 million to spend.

Sullivan, a former assistant U.S. attorney who retired in 2019 and teaches as an adjunct at area universities, said he supported the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response that deferred emergency decisions to states. Sullivan also said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s $4 trillion tax plan would “stifle the economy for 10 years, and in Connecticut would be economic Armageddon.”

Hayes, disagreed, saying if the White House had instituted a national coronavirus strategy for test and contact tracing, the country would be healthier and further along in economic recovery. Hayes said she supported Biden’s tax plan because “everyone in the community has to do their part,” including the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

rryser@newstimes.com 203-731-3342