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Gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley of Greenwich won the Republican primary Tuesday night and will face Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a rematch on Nov. 4.
The Associated Press reported shortly after 10 p.m. that Foley had 43,322 votes while Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield had collected 34,363 votes.
“Change is on the way,” Foley said on arrival at Villa Rosa Pontelandolfo Club in Waterbury. “Dan Malloy has had his chance. Change is coming.”
Foley said to an audience of about 200 people that Malloy has had four years to fix things and that “most of the things under his leadership have actually gotten worse.”
“Connecticut families deserve better,” Foley said.
Republicans must stop the Democrats from driving up the cost of living, increasing taxes, energy costs and health care costs, Foley said.
There is a lot of work to be done to repair roads and help all children in Connecticut get a good education.
“Pride and prosperity in Connecticut aren’t that far away, but they are just in a different direction,” Foley said.
Foley was joined Tuesday night by his wife, Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley, and son Tom Foley Jr.
He thanked Republicans for their strong endorsement and said that he had spoken with McKinney.
Foley, who lost to Malloy in 2010 by 6,000 votes, won the endorsement of delegates at the State Republican Convention in May at Mohegan Sun. McKinney, who represents Fairfield, earned enough votes to qualify for a primary.
During the campaign for the primary, McKinney emphasized his experience in state government, and Foley resumed his 2010 theme of being a political outsider.
McKinney arrived at his campaign’s results watch party at the Local Kitchen and Beer Bar in his hometown of Fairfield after watching the results come in with his family.
“I have been honored and in love with every day of public service,” McKinney said after telling his supporters that he had called Foley to concede the race. “But I have seen Connecticut go in the wrong direction. Connecticut has gone in the wrong direction under this governor, and that’s why I got into this race.”
But, McKinney said, Foley ran a better campaign and will be a formidable opponent for Malloy in November. In his concession speech, McKinney attacked Malloy and threw his full support behind Foley.
“We need to elect a new governor,” he said. “That governor needs to be Tom Foley.”
He later said that he and Foley, despite their sometimes contentious primary campaign, are on the same page.
“Our job, when running in a primary, is to take small differences and accentuate them,” McKinney said. “At the end of the day, Tom and I agree on a lot more than we disagree, and we certainly are a lot farther from where Dan Malloy is.”
McKinney, who chose not to run for re-election to his state Senate seat, said he plans to spend more time with his family and take his son off to college in a few weeks.
“I’ve always envisioned my life in public service, but I don’t know what (form) that will take,” he said. “I’m not even going to focus on anything other than helping elect Republicans this November.”
When asked if he would accept a job in a potential Foley administration, McKinney said that his job is going to be getting Republicans elected in November and has not given much thought to what he wants to pursue after the general election.
Fairfield Republican Town Committee Chairman Jamie Millington told the gathered supporters around 9:30 p.m. that he has known McKinney his entire life and called Tuesday night’s defeat “bittersweet.”
The crestfallen crowd applauded, though, when Millington assured them that McKinney “has a future ahead of him.”
McKinney was considered the underdog to Foley. Throughout the primary campaign, Foley and McKinney focused on their shared home region, Fairfield County, but also turned their attention to eastern Connecticut for votes.
In the week leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, McKinney spent a relatively large amount of his time in the eastern half of the state, including Mystic, New London, Stonington, Pawcatuck, Lebanon, Hebron and Plainfield.
“We have been there a lot,” McKinney told The Day on Monday. “It’s an important part of the state for us. It’s a part of the state where I probably had the least name recognition because of my service in southwestern Connecticut.”
On Sunday, McKinney spent time shaking hands with folks at the Battle of Stonington bicentennial parade that brought thousands to Stonington borough. He was in New London last Wednesday to watch the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaling ship, leave New London’s City Pier and head back to Mystic Seaport. He also spent time at a local brewery in Pawcatuck to talk about growing small businesses in Connecticut and at Mystic Aquarium to discuss his plan to eliminate the income tax for filers who earn less than $75,000 annually.
But Foley won New London County by about 14 percentage points. McKinney carried only Fairfield County, where both he and Foley campaigned heavily on Monday and Tuesday.
McKinney, the youngest child of the late Congressman Stewart B. McKinney, was joined Tuesday night by his own three children, Matthew, Graysen and Kate. His fiancee, Kristin Fox, was also by his side as he addressed his campaign staff and supporters.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola congratulated Foley for a “decisive victory” and commended McKinney for running in the primary. “It’s been a healthy primary process and I am confident we will close ranks and unify against Malloy,” Labriola said.
As of late Tuesday night, the primary for the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor was too close to call.