On the economy, Malloy boasted his record of creating jobs, investing in small businesses run by minorities and women, promoting new industry hubs in Connecticut such as biotech, and in general propping Connecticut up as the fastest growing economy in New England.
On the other hand, Foley blasted back saying that many of the jobs Malloy said he created were in fact created by his Republican predecessor, Jodi Rell, and that Connecticut’s economy is one of the slowest growing in the nation. He also mentioned that the audience was going to hear a lot of “Malloy Math” throughout the debate, which he described as Malloy reporting some accurate facts, and others that didn’t add up.
Both candidates constantly called each other out on lying.
Next up the candidates were asked if the size of the state’s government should be reduced, but it lead to the candidates debating who had better managerial experience. Foley said, “The governor has no manager experience,” but that he himself has tons of years managing businesses. Foley said the size of the government isn’t the issue, it’s how the workforce is being allocated.
Malloy rebutted that he does have managerial experience since he ran the city of Stamford for 14 years as mayor. However, Foley turned this statement around, saying Malloy raised taxes seven times while he was Stamford’s mayor, that the city’s finances were worse when he left, and that he didn’t do anything to close the large education achievement gap.
At one point, Foley quipped, “Governor, why should anyone believe you?” because he says Malloy has made many promises that he never followed through on.
Another tense moment came when the candidates were asked about extending, rolling back, or leaving the post-Sandy Hook tragedy gun laws in place. Malloy started by saying he was proud of implementing universal background checks, limits on ammunition magazines, and prohibiting the sale of weapons of mass destruction in Connecticut. He argued that Foley wants to repeal the law, but that it’s obviously working since the muder rate in the three largest cities in the state dropped by 32 percent in 2013. Malloy also said that there needs to be more investment by the state in mental health services, since that was a big factor in what led to the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Foley immediately replied saying that although he doesn’t think the laws have made people in Connecticut safer, “I never said I would repeal the gun law, and I won’t.” Malloy called him out, saying Foley has frequently said he wants the laws repealed. Foley’s answer? The governor doesn’t make laws, the state’s legislator does. Foley said that although he wouldn’t actively seek a repeal, he also wouldn’t veto one if it was sent to him from the legislator. This caused quite a stir in the audience, who started laughing enough for Brent to have to tell them to settle down.
The passion started erupting as soon as education was brought up. When asked how the Common Core plays into each candidates’ education vision, the two could not agree at all. Foley started, and he used air quotes to say that Malloy’s reform bill was “education reform lite.” He said Malloy added unnecessary regulations and restrictions on schools and in ways teachers are assessed, but there wasn’t a need to fix something that wasn’t broken to begin with. He ended by saying he doesn’t agree with Common Core and thinks it was a mistake.
Malloy hit back hard. Not only did a Republican governor implement Common Core, not him, but he’s worked to lessen testing for students, he said. He also reminded everyone that two teachers’ unions have thrown their support behind him because Foley wants to take away money from schools, and he wants to allow parents to send students to better schools outside their districts. Malloy said those better schools are already over packed, and it would be more beneficial to better fund improving those schools.
Falloy was quick to rebut those claims, saying “There’s no point in rewarding failure” by giving taxpayer dollars to underperforming schools. He said “It’s not your money, it’s taxpayers money.” The argument ended by Malloy saying “If you want poor schools to get worse, then vote for Tom Foley.”
The last question was the only one the candidates could agree on. They both cited their mothers as their inspiration for going into politics. Malloy said his mother got him through a difficult time growing up, when he had both learning and physical disabilities, leading other kids to call him “mentally retarded.” However, he worked hard and succeeded. Foley said his mother piqued his interest because her family in Wisconsin was involved with politics, so it always interested. Since none of his relatives had run for office, he thought he would take the step and run.
The closing statements were the dirtiest of the night. Malloy called Foley out for attacking his integrity several times throughout the night, and said that’s now how we treat each other. He also said it’s wrong to throw stones if you live in a glass house–he cited Foley being fined by the election commission, supporting former convicts in office, a 1981 road rage accident that Foley was arrested for (the charges were dropped), and that “people don’t bankrupt companies, they don’t lay off workers,” like Foley does. He said he wouldn’t have brought any of those attacks up, but Foley went to far.
Foley fought back, saying “Have you seen your attack ads? Because you’re a better prosecutor than governor.” He ended by saying that the state needed smarter policies to get it up and running again and to restore pride in Connecticut.
At separate post-debate news conferences, neither candidate was apologetic for their negativity during the debate. Foley said he offered a truce to Malloy after the microphones were cut and lights or dimmed.
With four and a half weeks left until Election Day, it’s unclear if such a truce will last.
FOX CT will re-air the entire debate on Sunday at 10 a.m.