Gloves off for Conn. gubernatorial rivals

McKinney says no agreement for a ‘civil’ campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley (left) and John McKinney shook hands after a July 17 debate.
Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley (left) and John McKinney shook hands after a July 17 debate.(Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant)

HARTFORD — Tom Foley, the endorsed Republican candidate for Connecticut governor, said Sunday that he and his GOP rival, state Senator John McKinney, had agreed to run a civil campaign, a promise he said has been followed mostly, but not always.

However, McKinney insisted that no agreement was ever reached. He downplayed any talk of campaign civility, accusing Foley of being close to Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy on the issue of state employees’ labor unions.

Interviewed on WFSB-TV’s ‘‘Face the State,’’ Foley said that he and McKinney, the Senate Republican leader, ruled out negative campaigning.

‘‘Senator McKinney and I talked before the race started and we had an agreement that we wouldn’t go negative, at least in certain respects,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think all of what I thought we had agreed to has been observed, but most of it has.’’


Foley told the Associated Press that McKinney’s use of his name in ads violates the agreement. ‘‘Apparently, Senator McKinney or his staff decided otherwise,’’ he said.

In an e-mailed statement, McKinney accused Foley of failing to see a difference between ‘‘a discussion and an agreement.’’

‘‘There’s absolutely no such agreement between the two of us and he knows it,’’ he said.

‘‘This is yet another example of how Tom tries to distract attention from the facts,’’ McKinney said. ‘‘He won’t cut spending and I will. He supports Dan Malloy’s sweetheart deal with union bosses; I don’t.’’

Still, Foley said the campaign is not as rough as the contest he won in 2010 against then-lieutenant governor Michael Fedele, who ran TV ads criticizing Foley’s business background and accusing him of bankrupting a Georgia textile company.

‘‘I think it has a more civil tone to it than it did in the last election,’’ he said.

Foley said he and McKinney sought to keep the campaign on a ‘‘higher level’’ and focus on issues, not ‘‘negative hits’’ on the candidates and their possible motives. The goal was to make sure that whoever wins the Republican nomination in the Aug. 12 primary will not be weakened as he takes on Malloy in the fall campaign, he said.


‘‘When you’re from the same party, you hope that whoever emerges from a primary is well-positioned to win the election,’’ Foley said.