Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley needs to seriously rethink his refusal to participate in the debate scheduled for October 23rd, live on NBC-Connecticut (Ch. 30). Whatever the reason, Foley will look terrible begging off participating and the voters will notice. A case in point is former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont, Malloy’s primary opponent in 2010.
Foley won’t be in studio (as of now) on the 23rd because he wants to exclude petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, a conservative one-trick pony who is a near absolutist on Second Amendment issues.
The optics are bad. Foley appears to be so tentative that he can’t handle Visconti. If he can’t handle him, how can he handle a General Assembly that is dominated by Democrats? Despite Visconti’s whacky, right-wing position on firearms, it was Foley who snagged the endorsement of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL), the largest pro-gun rights group in the state. That should be enough cover if Foley fears Visconti running to the right of him.
The Democrats are having a field day with Foley turning down debate opportunities that Gov. Dan Malloy says he would happily take. “He [Foley] is pulling out of debates left and right because he knows the more Connecticut finds out about Tom Foley and his agenda to hurt middle class families, the less they like him,” said Malloy campaign spokesman Mark Bergman. “Now he’s pulling out of a debate because of Joe Visconti. Tom Foley can run but he can’t hide from the people of Connecticut.”
The Democrats quickly pointed out that Foley has changed his tune on debating with Visconti included. Foley also blew off a forum to be hosted by CT Mirror.org, The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and AARP that was scheduled for September 28th. It would seem that those are three groups deserving to hear from the candidates.
The big question is will NBC-CT go ahead with a televised debate between Malloy and Visconti? That would seem to be a waste of time and money. Foley should have gone to school on what happened to Democrat Ned Lamont in 2010.
Lamont was locked in a close race with Malloy for the party’s nomination. After a mediocre debate performance, Lamont’s campaign announced he would not debate on WFSB-TV (Ch. 3) or on WNPR radio. The firestorm that ensued forced Lamont to reverse course and agree to the debates but the damage was done. Lamont appeared to be afraid to engage with Malloy. Malloy stomped him by 15 points.