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Foley back in the race

Published February 01. 2014 4:00AM

The field of potential gubernatorial candidates grew larger Wednesday with the announcement by Republican Tom Foley of Greenwich, who narrowly lost to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy four years ago, that he once again will be making a bid for the state's top office.

In 2010 The Day endorsed Mr. Foley, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, and we welcome him back to the race - though it's far too soon now to say which candidate we will back in November.

For one thing, Gov. Malloy, a Democrat, has not said whether or not he will be seeking a second term. And we haven't had time to assess the qualities of Mr. Foley's potential rivals for the GOP nomination, including Mr. Foley's running mate in 2010, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and Wilton state Sen. Toni Boucher. State Republicans are scheduled to endorse a candidate in May, with a primary expected if no one emerges as the clear favorite.

In his announcement Wednesday, Mr. Foley focused on fiscal issues, vowing to hold the line on discretionary spending for two years and to reduce the sales tax by half a percent. He also promised to help cities by improving schools, cutting crime, adding jobs, expanding housing and reducing poverty. Mr. Foley's plan would reintroduce inter-district school choice in troubled districts but would retain local control for schools performing well. A similar program, called Open Choice, operated in the state from 1999 to 2003.

This newspaper's 2010 endorsement was based largely on our belief that Mr. Foley, with a background in business, was the best candidate to improve the state's finances, dragged down by a stagnant economy and $3.4 billion budget deficit.

Since his election by a scant 6,404-vote margin, Gov. Malloy has made significant fiscal improvements, but we remain concerned about his reliance on taxes, the still-unresolved challenge of fixing an under-funded pension system, and a cloudy employment forecast.

This newspaper encourages all candidates to come up with specific plans to address these problems, and to focus on other issues that affect voters. A political campaign can be like a boxing match and we'll give the same advice a referee does just before the bell rings: Come out swinging, but fight fair.

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