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Ledyard (AP) - As he runs for re-election, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is rekindling a rivalry with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, tweaking the Republican over his position on gun control and his state's economic record.
Christie, who came to Connecticut this week to campaign for one of Malloy's potential opponents, in turn has vowed to return often ahead of the November election to help the Republicans take back the governor's office in Hartford.
Malloy and Christie have sparred in the past over taxes, spending and personalities.
Malloy scoffed Tuesday at Connecticut Republicans aligning politically with Christie, accusing his fellow governor of driving New Jersey "closer and closer to bankruptcy."
"I want everyone to look at New Jersey and assume that Tom Foley would do the same thing, or McKinney would to the same thing to Connecticut that he's done to New Jersey, which is basically drive it closer and closer to bankruptcy. That's what they're embracing when they embrace Governor Christie," Malloy told The Associated Press, following an appearance in Ledyard.
Malloy was referring to his two GOP rivals for governor this year. Foley is the Connecticut Republicans' endorsed candidate, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney is challenging him in the Aug. 12 primary. As he did in the 2010 gubernatorial election, Christie said Monday he supported Foley's candidacy.
Jerry Labriola Jr., chairman of the Connecticut GOP, called it "unfortunate that Dan Malloy must resort to inflammatory language concerning a neighboring governor."
Labriola called Christie a dynamic leader with a unique ability to bring people together to make government work.
"However, what our governor fails to mention is that, like in Hartford, the purse strings of New Jersey are controlled by a Democrat legislature," he said. "So, I'm sure that much of Gov. Christie's free-market agenda is being stymied by the Democrats' blue-state brand of big government and overreach."
Christie was in Greenwich on Monday to attend political fundraisers for the Connecticut Republican Party and the National Republican Governors Association, which he chairs. Christie promised that he would come "again, and again, and again" to Connecticut to help elect a governor who'll bring economic growth and jobs to the state. His appearance helped to generate about $125,000 for the state GOP's victory fund, which considers the governor's race its top priority.
The Connecticut Democrats used Christie's visit to motivate donors, sending out an email Tuesday saying, "We need your help to counter every attack from Chris Christie and the millions of dollars he could spend to beat us."
Malloy accused Christie of under-budgeting New Jersey's pension plan by billions of dollars, saying at another event in Uncasville: "Compare that to what I've done any day."
On Monday, Christie said that Malloy "tends to say a lot of inflammatory things about me." But Christie said he wasn't going to return fire on a personal level.
"Gov. Malloy's thrilled I'm here today. And I know that he'll be thrilled when I come here again and again and again to do the best I can to make sure that Connecticut has a governor that will bring growth to the state and jobs and its economy. And Dan Malloy's had four years to do that. He hasn't done it," Christie said. "And so he can say whatever he wants about me. I happen to like Dan personally. I think he's a decent guy. I just don't think he's a good governor."
Malloy also took issue with Christie's decision not to meet with the family members of the Newtown school shooting victims the day before he vetoed legislation that would have reduced maximum gun magazine capacities in New Jersey from 15 to 10 rounds. Christie has called the measure "trivial" and said he does not believe it would limit mass shootings.
"Here's a governor that refused to meet with the survivors of Newtown and called their concerns trivial. If that's what Republicans want to tie themselves to in our state, god bless them. I hope he comes a lot," said Malloy, adding that he believes Christie's comments "spoke a lot about his character."