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Tom Foley is poor in campaign promise specifics

While poking around recently to learn more about the source of all Tom Foley's money - he is running, after all, on his record as a successful businessman - I came upon some interesting trivia about the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

It turns out his father, Gifford Pinchot Foley, was named for a former governor of Pennsylvania, Gifford Pinchot, a founder, under President Theodore Roosevelt, of the U.S. Forest Service, a progressive public official whom President John F. Kennedy once hailed as the father of the conservation movement in the United States.

I couldn't help but think how far Tom Foley has fallen from the namesake tree when I heard him recently sneering at Gov. Dan Malloy for his efforts to improve mass transit in the state and get more people out of their cars.

Stay-in-your-cars Foley does not seem like much of an environmentalist and would probably cringe at many of Gifford Pinchot's progressive policies, including campaigns for stricter anti-trust laws and the regulation of electric power companies.

Indeed, not only has Foley been vague about the business career he presents as his gubernatorial credentials, he is vague about most issues.

We know he is against Dan Malloy and just about everything Malloy has done as governor. But it is hard to know what Foley is for, besides himself.

I know he is against Obamacare, because he was roundly supportive of the Republican shutdown of the government last year, in its failed attempt to repeal affordable health care.

We know he says he supports unions. But apparently that union support wanes when they start demanding things like raises at a company he owns. Then you get rid of them.

I don't know that he is against gay marriage or abortion, but he actively sought the endorsement of a Connecticut organization that is.

You would have more luck winning the lottery than getting a direct answer from candidate Foley on gun control and Connecticut's enactment last year of a stricter gun law.

I would be much more impressed with a Foley candidacy criticizing the incumbent if he made some concrete suggestions for what he would do differently.

His Republican opponent in the primary, for instance, proposed eliminating the income tax for middle class families. I haven't heard any proposals as substantial or as intriguing as that from either Foley or Malloy.

Foley has proposed cutting the sales tax by 0.05 percent. Excuse me while I yawn.

Foley's plan for fixing the state, "Restoring Pride and Prosperity in Connecticut," has a subtitle: "A Roadmap Forward." Honestly, if you tried to navigate with the thing you'd get lost immediately.

"Restoring Pride and Prosperity in Connecticut" is very long on vague promises and platitudes and very short on specific policy suggestions.

You get things like: "lower state health care costs" or "help towns reduce costs so they can lower property taxes" or "direct every department of state government to find productivity improvements" and, my favorites, "generate a more bi-partisan culture," followed by "work hard to elect candidates who support Tom's plan."

It would be hard to know who those candidates are since it is hard to know just what the plan is, exactly how Foley would restore pride and prosperity.

Maybe I'm missing something. You can see for yourself at the candidate's website, tomfoleyct.com.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me Connecticut voters are hungry for change and are generally uneasy with the status quo, the one-party grip on power in Hartford. But I think they want to hear a full-throated promise to cut the size of government and taxes, not vague promises not to increase spending.

I think voters want a roadmap that includes specific directions, where and when we are going to turn and how far we have to go to reach our destination.

You may not like where Dan Malloy is taking the state, but at least we know where we've been and which way he wants to go.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

Twitter: @DavidCollinsct

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