Four years after he lost the governor’s mansion by just 6,000 votes, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley will get a rematch with incumbent governor Dannel Malloy.

With low turnout from registered Republicans, Foley defeated state senate minority leader John McKinney in the August 12 primary, winning 56 percent of the vote to McKinney’s 44, according to the unofficial results with about 90 percent of the precincts counted.

Though the final outcome of the primary was not a surprise—Foley won his party’s nomination in May and lead other Republican candidates in polls for months—McKinney’s relatively strong performance was, according to Gary Rose, chairman of the department of government and politics at Sacred Heart University.

“At one point [McKinney] was in single digits,” Rose said. “He certainly didn’t win but I think he could be described as the comeback kid.”

Both parties are gearing up for a close fight. Fiscal and economic issues are likely to loom large in the race, as Foley has criticized Malloy’s management of the budget and blamed him for Connecticut’s slow recovery from the recession. Foley has also attacked Malloy’s strong support for the Common Core, while Malloy has accused Foley of seeking budget cuts that would harm the state’s schools.

In a release, Malloy’s campaign senior advisor Mark Bergman accused Foley of “chirping from the cheap seats” since Malloy took office in 2011.

The release also took note of a gaffe of Foley’s: during a June press conference outside of a closing paper mill, where Foley sought to explain how his administration would have staved off closure of the mill and saved 145 jobs, he veered off course and said “You have failed at your efforts to keep these jobs here.”

Foley’s campaign claims the remark was a direct retort to criticism from Democratic state senator Cathy Osten, while an ad McKinney ran late in the primary race implied Foley had accused the mill’s workers of failure.

Rose predicted Malloy’s campaign will continue to highlight the incident in order to paint Foley as insensitive and out of touch.

Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Foley, said voters are dissatisfied with Malloy’s policies and are looking for a candidate to take Connecticut in a new direction.

Richter Elser ’81, New Haven Republican town chairman, voted for McKinney in the primary but said he will now support Foley. Elser said he thinks voters will respond well if Foley offers specific details about how his administration would differ from Malloy’s.

“What the Republicans have to do is campaign on being more than the anti-Democrat,” Elser said. “They have to campaign on having better plans for the state.”

Though the candidates will be the same, Elser said he doesn’t think scrutinizing Connecticut’s last gubernatorial election will provide many clues as to how this year’s race will play out. But he does think the slim margin of 2010 offers one crucial lesson for voters and candidates alike: “Votes matter.”

Foley served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2006 to 2009.

Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Foley, said voters are dissatisfied with Malloy’s policies and are looking for a candidate to take Connecticut in a new direction.

Richter Elser ’81, New Haven Republican town chairman, voted for McKinney in the primary but said he will now support Foley. Elser said he thinks voters will respond well if Foley offers specific details about how his administration would differ from Malloy’s.

“What the Republicans have to do is campaign on being more than the anti-Democrat,” Elser said. “They have to campaign on having better plans for the state.”

Though the candidates will be the same, Elser said he doesn’t think scrutinizing Connecticut’s last gubernatorial election will provide many clues as to how this year’s race will play out. But he does think the slim margin of 2010 offers one crucial lesson for voters and candidates alike: “Votes matter.”

Foley served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2006 to 2009.