In their third and final televised debate, Democratic candidate for governor Dan Malloy for the first time in the general election, questioned Republican opponent Tom Foley’s character, asking him to explain his past felony arrest and subsequent claim to the FBI that he hadn’t had one.

The exchange ratcheted up the tension between the two in an otherwise predictable debate that touched on taxes, the budget deficit, jobs and transportation. The debate was live on NBC-CT (Channel 30).

In the part of the debate in which the candidates could question each other, Malloy dropped the gloves and pressed Foley to answer for a series of events in his past that were highlighted extensively in the primary by Foley’s fellow Republicans. The Hartford Courant reported in June that Foley was twice arrested including once for first degree assault, a felony. When Foley was being considered by the George W. Bush administration for an ambassadorship, the FBI asked in a questionnaire whether he had ever been arrested for a felony. Foley answered “no.” Foley chose not to answer Malloy on question saying the whole subject had been addressed and “vetted” by the Courant.

Another major point of contention was Malloy’s connection to state employee labor unions. Foley claims Malloy has already made a deal with the unions by promising no layoffs in exchange for their support. Malloy denied any such deal was made.

The two also continued to differ on whether Foley’s health care plan would take away some benefits from people who now have them. Foley claims his “Core Benefits” plan would simply extend health care coverage to those who don’t have it. But Malloy read from Foley’s plan. It states that employers that spend a certain, undefined amount of payroll on health care for employees could opt into a “Core Benefits” plan that would be exempt from state mandates. State mandates include mammograms, prostate cancer screenings, various preventative measure, the much-talked-about wigs for cancer patients, hearing aids, etc.

In what could be considered a gaffe, Foley contended that the insurance industry didn’t lose jobs in this latest recession, that manufacturing did. One would be hard pressed to back up the assertion.

Foley scored points on the death penalty issue when he pointed out what can be considered a flaw in Malloy’s logic in his opposition to it. Malloy has consistently said he would sign a bill abolishing the death penalty as long as it was prospective, or going forward. He maintains those now on death row and if convicted to death, those accused in the infamous Petit murders, would not escape death. Foley questioned why, if the death penalty is wrong for those convicted in the future, why isn’t it wrong now?

Less than a week to go.