FOX61 Exclusive: Tom Foley says Governor Malloy missed opportunities to turn the state around

It's been three years since Greenwich businessman Tom Foley hung up his campaign hat and retreated back to private life after one of the most cut throat gubernatorial races the state's ever seen.

Nowadays, he's focusing on work and his young family, but that hasn't stopped him from having a strong opinion about Connecticut's economy or his former opponent.

“I think all of the challenges the state met when I first ran in 2010, have only gotten worse,” Foley told Fox 61’s Jenn Bernstein in a one-on-one interview.

Tom Foley candid and blunt about the state of Connecticut.  A place he lives, works, and had hoped to govern starting almost a decade ago.  But these days, his focus is personal.

"I have six-year-old twins, they were three at the time,” Foley said, “They are now six.  That involves a lot of my time.  I`ve gotten back into private equity investing business which I was in before I got in to public service."

"What`s it been like watching the state of Connecticut as a private citizen?" Bernstein asked.

“One of the things that motivated me to run for office in the first place was my concern for the future of the state and I`m even more concerned now than I was then,” Foley responded.

Seven years ago, Foley made his first run for governor, winning the republican nomination, then facing Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy in the general election.   It was a bitter battle and a close one.  With more than 1.1 million votes cast in the state, Malloy narrowly beat him by just 6,400 votes.

A massive tax hike and another election cycle later, a re-match.  One of the most cut throat gubernatorial races Connecticut's ever seen.

You couldn't turn on a television without watching an attack ad. But once again, Foley lost in 2014.  This time by more than 25,000 votes.

It's been a tough few years for Connecticut, the state facing a deep budget gap, tax hikes, and painful budget cuts.  With a declining population and companies like General Electric, Aetna, and now Alexion Pharmaceuticals moving their headquarters out of state, Connecticut is feeling the pinch of tough economic times.

"How do you think Governor Malloy`s handled the fiscal crisis?" Bernstein asked.

“These problems started before he was elected, but I think there was an opportunity certainly in 2010 to turn this ship around and he missed that opportunity,” Foley said.

“He hasn`t really expressed any interest in long term solutions to the fiscal problems of the state.  He`s been pretty dismissive and even rude toward taxpayers and businesses who had issues about Connecticut,” Foley continued, “He`s accelerated the tax base leaving and further complicated the fiscal issues."

Foley believes he would have taken a different tone with voters and businesses, "They vote with their feet and that`s what`s been going on in Connecticut, people have been leaving,” Foley said, "I would have taken a very different path and I think I would have kept a lot of these people here."

Foley says businesses and people are worried lawmakers will continue to seek tax hikes to make up for lost revenue.

“I`ve had friends who`ve left the state because they`re concerned the state would do something really stupid like trying to tax capital or have a retroactive tax,” said Foley.

“Do you have any plans to leave Connecticut because of taxes?” Bernstein asked.

"No, I have young children, my wife is very happy here, and I have no plans to leave." Foley responded.

We did reach out to Governor Malloy's office for a response.  His Communications Director Kelly Donnelly responded with a statement saying, "Governor Malloy has never been afraid to be honest and forthright with the public about very real problems facing the state and discussing what it takes to fix them. Tom Foley's inability to do just that is why Connecticut voters rejected him twice for our state's highest office."

Part II - Tom Foley talks '18 Connecticut gubernatorial election; President Trump.