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Foley a no show at Conn gubernatorial debate hosted by WVIT-TV

The latest Connecticut gubernatorial TV debate was overshadowed by the elephant who was not in the room — Republican candidate Tom Foley. 

Foley was a no show at WVIT’s 7 p.m. debate Thursday night even though the station left a seat on the stage open for him until 6:45. Foley’s campaign spokesman said he was instead taping a segment for a Sunday talk show on a rival TV station.

That left the stage to Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and petitioning candidate Joe Visconti.

Foley’s decision a strange thing, Malloy said. “It’s also disrespectful. The people of Connecticut deserve to hear from the candidate. He accepted this invitation and he’s not here,” he said.

Foley had originally accepted the invitation to the debate, by later bowed out, saying his campaign’s negotiation with the NBC affiliate did not go well.

Visconti is a gun rights advocate who obtained 10,000 signatures to qualify to be on the ballot after losing at the Republican Party convention.

He was not surprised to find himself alone with Malloy, he said. “I did a video for the Republican convention. The opening shot of the video was Visconti versus Malloy. We did, we foresaw this,” Visconti said

Visconti and Malloy debated issues including gun control, education funding and the economy.  If elected, Visconti said he’d consider raising taxes to balance the state’s budget. “We are going to have to unload some of the good things we’ve been doing for decades and we are going to have to look at what’s essential. Tax increases are the last thing but it is not fair not to let the public know that that is a possibility,” he said.

“We’ve already shrunk state government, everybody knows that, and we are going to do other things to make sure that we don’t have a tax increase and we’ll preserve the safety net, and we’ll work on this together,” said Malloy, who raised taxes in his first term, reiterating a promise not raise taxes if reelected.

Republican candidate Foley has also promised not to raise taxes if elected. This leaves Visconti with one definite way to distinguish himself from both major party candidates.

Thursday’s debate was the sixth of seven debates scheduled in the race. The final debate will be held on Nov. 2, the Sunday before the Nov. 4 election.


As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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