Foley, McKinney square off in Republican primary

At 5:30 p.m. on the day of the Republican primary gubernatorial candidate, Tom Foley of Greenwich went to the Plantsville School to shake hands with voters. Experts expect low voter turnout during the Republican primary today in part because there is not a Republican congressional primary this year as there was in 2010. Foley’s opponent, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield, spent time in Trumbull, Bridgeport and Fairfield today among other towns to win over voters on primary day.

“We feel very confident that we are going to win with a comfortable margin,” Foley said.

Foley said he had run into about two voters in Trumbull, five or six people in Oxford and that his family members were the only ones voting in Greenwich at 6:45 a.m. today. During Foley’s visit to Plantsville School there were more reporters than voters on the school’s grounds.

Foley said he hadn’t seen any particular groups out at the polls other than one group for “team David Walker.” Walker is a former U.S. comptroller general and is running for lieutenant governor against Republican endorsed candidate Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs and Groton Town Councilor Heather Bond Somers.

About 9.5 percent of registered Republicans in districts 10 and 2 had voted by 3 p.m. District 10 is Plantsville and District 2 is the area surrounding John F. Kenney Middle School, both are in Southington.

Steven Gregory, 48, of Southington, said he voted for McKinney and Somers because “they were not as aggressive in their attack ads.”

“They were not attacking people, they were more about the issues,” Gregory said.

Paula Guerin, 69, of Plantsville said she voted for McKinney and his running mate Walker.

“I think McKinney has got a good handle on the issues, and I think Walker has a good background,” Guerin said.

She said she didn’t know if McKinney would win because people such as her neighbor were specifically not voting for him because he voted in favor of gun control after the Newtown massacre.

“I said, look he is from Newtown, what did you expect?” Guerin said. “I don’t think he had a choice really.”

In 2013 McKinney voted for Senate Bill 1160, which banned the sale and possession of assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines.

John Beidler, 67, of Southington, voted for Foley and Bacchiochi and was carrying a Tom Foley sign when Foley arrived at Plantsville School.

Beidler, who is also the treasurer for the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said he and other members of the group had spoken with many gun owners in the state to “retire McKinney.”

“We have a meeting today in Middletown and it’s going to be McKinney’s retirement party,” he said.

The candidates who win the primary will run against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman on Nov. 4.

State Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, who supports Foley, said he thought Foley was better positioned this time around compared to the 2010 race against Malloy. The longer Malloy is in office, the better off Foley is, he said.

"We know what we get with Malloy, and nobody can want that," Markley said.

j.somers@theday.com

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