Both sides ready for Foley and Malloy rematch in governor’s race

Before voting in Tuesday's primary, with his young daughter in tow, Tom Foley met with Greenwich supporters including, from left, Leora Levy, Selectman David Theis, BET member Leslie Tarkington and state representative candidate Mike Boccino, — John Ferris Robben photo

Before voting in Tuesday’s primary, with his young daughter in tow, Tom Foley met with Greenwich supporters including, from left, Leora Levy, Selectman David Theis, BET member Leslie Tarkington and state representative candidate Mike Boccino, — John Ferris Robben photo

After Tuesday’s primary election, the ballot for November is set and its a familiar one as once again Greenwich resident Tom Foley will face off with Dannel Malloy for governor.

In a primary election that had low turnout throughout the state, Mr. Foley, the former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, defeated State Sen. John McKinney in the Republican primary for governor. Mr. Foley received 55.6% of the support of state Republicans, getting 44,464 votes to Mr. McKinney’s 44.4%, equaling 35,563. Mr. McKinney conceded shortly after 9:30 on Tuesday night, pledging full support of Mr. Foley’s campaign.

Mr. Foley, who had received the state party’s endorsement at the May Republican convention, had been confident in the days leading up to the primary, predicting he would win by a “comfortable” margin and the numbers backed up that confidence. This sets up a rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial race in Connecticut which Mr. Malloy narrowly won.

However, this time Mr. Malloy will be an incumbent with both the advantages and disadvantages that come with that. While some Internet-based polls have shown Mr. Foley with a big lead in the matchup with Mr. Malloy, most polling has found this race to be even closer than it was in 2010. Mr. Foley is seen as having the narrow edge right now as the Republican challenger to the incumbent Democratic governor.

In a victory speech surrounded by cheering supporters, including Greenwich Selectman David Theis, Mr. Foley thanked everyone for their “strong endorsement” for new policies to restore “pride and prosperity” to Connecticut. Mr. Foley painted himself as an outsider, coming in to bring change to Connecticut and “end the stranglehold of tax and spend policies on the state.”

“Change is on the way,” Mr. Foley said. “Change is coming to Connecticut. Dan Malloy has had his chance and change is coming.”

He added, “Many people feel that Connecticut’s future is at stake in this election and I am one of them. We will either have four more years of Dan Malloy’s policies and ever higher taxes and a rising cost of living or we will head in a different direction.”

At a downcast headquarters, Mr. McKinney said he was fully committed to supporting Mr. Foley and that he told the primary winner that he would do “anything he asked” in the coming campaign.

“The race does not end tonight,” Mr. McKinney said in his concession speech on Tuesday. “The goal was to elect a new governor. The goal was to make Dan Malloy a one-term governor. That goal was to put a fiscally responsible Republican in the governor’s seat. That goal is still ahead of us.”

A resident of Greenwich, Mr. Foley unsurprisingly dominated in town. He won Greenwich by a 63% to 37% margin, capturing 1,217 votes to Mr. McKinney’s 715. Mr. Foley won every district in town with the only close race being District 3 where Mr. Foley won by only one vote, a 15 to 14 margin that showed just how low turnout was in some parts of the state. Mr. Foley’s biggest margins were in District 7 where he won 137 to 41 and District 11 where he won 151 to 74. Overall, Greenwich had a 15.99% turnout amongst registered Republicans with 1,940 out of 12,134 eligible voters participating.

Meanwhile, Democrats have already begun framing the campaign as one where Mr. Malloy would keep the state moving into the future and Mr. Foley would take it back to the past.

Mark Bergman, senior adviser to Mr. Malloy, released a statement on Tuesday night saying, “Elections are about choices, and the choice facing the people of Connecticut couldn’t be more clear. Do we want to continue the progress that’s been made over the past three and a half years, or hire someone who will stop this progress dead in its tracks, make a sharp u-turn, and take us right back to the failed policies that drove us into the ditch Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman have been digging us out of?”

Both Mr. Bergman and state Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo indicated that Mr. Foley’s opposition to Mr. Malloy’s paid sick leave law and his record in the private sector will be part of the campaign. This was used effectively four years ago by Mr. Foley’s primary opponent, Michael Fedele, but was not brought up this go-round by Mr. McKinney. Ms. DiNardo said Mr. Foley’s policies would “turn back the clock for working families and women, from healthcare to schools.”

Guns could also prove to be a major issue in the fall campaign. After the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mr. Malloy pushed through bipartisan legislation that gave Connecticut the second toughest gun laws in the country. While the bill had strong Republican support, including from Mr. McKinney, whose state senate district includes Newtown, Mr. Foley has tacked rightward on this issue, saying that he felt the laws inconvenience law-abiding gun owners and restrict people’s Second Amendment rights.

A full discussion with Mr. Foley on the state’s gun laws and other issues is available online at HANRadio.com.

A private fund-raiser last month in Greenwich for Mr. Foley with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, head of the Republican Governors Association, drew hundreds of protesters to Belle Haven about Mr. Foley’s stance on the gun issue and supporters of the law pledged to make this an issue leading into November, a dialogue that could cause trouble for Mr. Foley as he seeks to keep the election debate concentrated on economic issues and jobs.

While it’s unclear what impact it actually had, the gun rights group Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) claimed that they were the reason Mr. McKinney lost, noting his support for the legislation created after 27 people, including 20 elementary school children, were murdered in his district. In a statement on Tuesday night the CCDL endorsed Mr. Foley and said they would “continue to work hard toward removing Governor Malloy from office in November.”

“Our first step has been to help Senator John McKinney depart from politics as an elected official,” CCDL spokesman Scott Wilson said. “We now have a candidate that is far better positioned to beat Malloy at the next level. Mr. Foley did not specifically seek out our help, but it is certainly our obligation to send Governor Malloy back to private life.”

 

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