NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The two men looking to be the Republican candidate for governor of Connecticut tangled over gun laws in the opening minutes of a candidates forum on WTNH News 8 Sunday.
Former U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley and State Sen. Jon McKinney are looking to win the GOP primary, which will be held Tuesday.
The first question of the forum came from News 8 watcher James of Vernon, who wanted to know:
“If you are elected Governor, do you have any plans to modify or repeal the gun legislation that was pushed through this state’s government? If you plan to modify the legislation, what are those plans?”
“As governor, I’m not going to focus on repealing the gun bill or making modifications to that law,” said McKinney, whose district includes Newtown. “I’m going to focus on growing our economy, creating jobs. Dan Malloy is going to leave either one of us a $2.8 billion budget deficit.”
“I said at the time (of the Newtown School Shooting) that the governor should focus on only policy changes that would prevent another Newtown from happening, and he went way beyond that,” Foley said. “In some respects Sen. McKinney actually advocated for restrictions that the governor wasn’t advocating for. This was an overreaching bill.”
“If the legislature chose to revisit the bill, and that there were corrections of simplifications that the could make that would reduce some of the onerous provisions on law-abiding citizens, I would support that,” Foley said.
Taxes and spending, and reducing or cutting spending, brought out sharp exchanges between the candidates.
“You have repeatedly voted for tax increases,” Foley told McKinney. “You have repeatedly voted for budgets that resulted in very significant increase in spending, so you’ve had some kind of epiphany here in the past three weeks, and all of a sudden you are a fiscal conservative when I’ve been talking about these kind of changes needed for Connecticut government for over four years.”
“I’ve had ten budget votes over 16 years that increased taxes, and I voted against all of them except one,” McKinney said. “I had five budget votes that actually cut taxes. And I’ve voted to cut taxes, hundreds of millions of dollars that passed.”
“There will be no tax increases in our budget,” McKinney said.
On the topic of Common Core, the education standards, McKinney said Common Core has been “imposed and implemented horribly by Governor Malloy and Commissioner (Stefan) Pryor. That is why I called for the resignation of Commissioner Pryor. Top-down policies don’t work. Education policies need to be grounded at the front lines by teachers and administrators. Teachers and administrators were never ask to buy into or support or create Common Core curriculum standards. And that’s why as governor I’ve said I would repeal it.”
“I have been very outspoken against mandating Common Core across the state,” Foley said. “I believe — and I think it is fundamental to the greatness of America — that local control, when it works, is the best option. And for Governor Malloy to come in and mandated teacher evaluations and Common Core assessments on all schools in Connecticut, many of which are some of the best in the country, is a mistake.”
LINK: Foley for Governor
LINK: McKinney for Governor
But the two candidates went back and forth over comments the other made, or in this case didn’t make, against Common Core.
“I don’t recall you speaking out against Common Core in 2010 when the bureaucrats passed it,” Foley said. “It’s only pretty recently that I’ve heard you talking out against Common Core.”
“You were running for governor in 2010; you never mentioned Common Core,” McKinney said. “Let’s look at every single interview you ever gave; never once. It had just passed, you were running for governor, you would have been in charge of our education system. You want to say I didn’t criticize it — you wanted to be governor.”
“Did you ever speak out against it,” Foley asked. “You were an elected official at the time.”
“Tom, the bureaucrats at the state Board of Education passed it. We (the legislature) didn’t get a chance to vote on it.”
“Did you speak out against it,” Foley asked.
“Did you? You didn’t, so there you go.”
“You were an elected official,” Foley said. “I wasn’t running…”
“Tom, you wanted to be governor.”
Sunday’s forum was hosted by News 8 Chief Political Correspondent Mark Davis, with additional questions from Susan Haigh of the Associated Press.
The Primary Election will be held Tuesday, Aug. 12. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.