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Foley, McKinney Face Off in Republican Primary Debate

The two Republican candidates for Connecticut governor faced off in a primary debate on Thursday at The Hartford Courant

Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, the party’s endorsed candidate, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield met in a debate sponsored by the newspaper and FoxCT. While not open to the general public, the event was live-streamed and will be broadcast on Sunday, July 20 at 10:00 am on Fox CT’s “Political Power Hour.” 

Foley, a businessman and former U.S.ambassador to Ireland, narrowly lost to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy in 2010.

One topic of discussion was guns. In April, Malloy signed a bill banning the possession and sale of assault weapons and large capacity magazines in Connecticut. Foley said the state needs to do more to address mental health. "The resources simply aren't there for families that have mental health challenges," he said. "We've seen all across the country, not just in Newtown, that most of these tragedies, with multiple murders, are the result of people with mental health issues."

John McKinney is the Republican senate minority leader, representing the district of Newtown. He said he would not repeal Malloy's gun law. "I was with them at the firehouse that day," he said. "I shared the pain with those families when they were told their kids weren't coming back. I'm proud that I'm the only voice that they have in the state senate, and I've been their voice."

The candidates also discussed education and the Common Core standards, which establish benchmarks in reading and math.

Teachers have criticized the plan, saying it deprives them of classroom flexibility. McKinney made his stance on Common Core clear. "Yes, I will stop Common Core," he said. "As governor, I will end it in the state of Connecticut. Our education decisions need to be made at the local level. We need the input from teachers, administrators, and parents in the school system."

At least a dozen states nationwide have introduced legislation to repeal Common Core.

The two candidates are competing in the August 12 primary. The winner will face Malloy in the November general election. 

Read tweets about the debate below:

This report includes information from The Associated Press.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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