Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley exchanged vitriolic accusations during their fourth major televised debate in Hartford Thursday afternoon.
At a previous debate on Oct. 2, Foley accused Malloy of corruption during Malloy’s tenure as mayor of Stamford. In retaliation, Malloy brought up two motor vehicle related infractions involving Foley in 1981 and 1993. After that debate, Foley requested a truce with Malloy to stop these character attacks. At last night’s debate Foley presented a contract on stage, which outlined the conditions for a possible truce.
However, Malloy instead brought up more accusations against Foley. Malloy said that Foley drove two businesses into bankruptcy, did not disclose arrests to the FBI and refused to negotiate with members of a strike at Pennsylvania plant TB Woods for three years. Malloy also said that Foley is falsifying his success as the owner of the Bibb Company — a national textile company based in Macon, Georgia.
“You should tell the truth about those 3,000 jobs you created in the company,” Malloy said to Foley. “You didn’t create those jobs — you bought another company and merged it with one,and the company you bought had 3,000 jobs. You had nothing to do with creating those jobs, and that’s in the history, in the newspapers and the reports.”
Foley did not deny these accusations, instead asking Malloy to once again focus on current issues facing the state.
Despite this request, Foley continued his own accusations of Malloy’s corrupt actions in the past as governor. According to Foley, Malloy misappropriated funds from the University of Connecticut to travel on personal vacations with his family. Foley added that Malloy’s inappropriate channeling of funds is one of the reasons the tuition at the University of Connecticut has been increasing.
Malloy denied these accusations.
Gary Rose, chairman of the department of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University, said that he believes Foley has been growing increasingly aggressive over the course of this election’s debates. Rose added that Foley also seemed more at ease with questions from the audience.
“The skills and fluidity with which he responds have gotten increasingly better with each debate,“ Rose said.
However, Fred Carstensen, a professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, said in an email that Foley’s failure to elaborate on specifics when questioned during these debates indicates that his policy proposals have become increasingly more similar to Malloy’s.
The latest poll from Quinnipiac University on Wednesday showed Foley and Malloy to be tied. Foley and Malloy each garnered 43 percent of the votes, with conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti receiving 9 percent. The last poll in early September gave Foley a six-point lead.
Rose said that, with such close poll numbers, Foley is expected to focus on the debates as a way to attract more voters in the next three weeks leading up to the election.
However, according to Mark McNulty, communications director for the Foley campaign, Foley would not be participating in a debate scheduled Oct. 23 at NBC Connecticut’s studios in West Hartford.
“We weren’t able to come to terms with [NBC Connecticut],” McNulty said.
According to Rose, as incumbents normally tend to avoid debating challengers, Foley declining the invitation is an unusual situation.
Lily Sawyer-Kaplan ’17, communications director for the Yale College Democrats, said this unwilligness to participate in the debate suggests a lack of transparency on Foley’s part. This lack of openness to voters, Sawyer-Kaplan added, does not reflect well on Foley’s abilities to govern.
Sawyer-Kaplan also noted that it was particularly interesting that Foley chose to drop out of one of only two debates featuring Visconti.
Amalia Halikas ’15, communications director for the Yale College Republicans, said that Foley might have had a good reason for choosing not to debate another conservative candidate.
“The bottom line is that the less Foley talks, the more likely he is to win,” Carstensen said in an email to the News.
The Connecticut Broadcasters Association hosted the Oct. 9 debate at the Hartford Hilton hotel.