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Wilton Republicans Head To Polls Tuesday To Pick Gubernatorial Candidate

State Sen. John McKinney, left, and Tom Foley, right, are vying for the Republican nod for governor in Tuesday's primary.
State Sen. John McKinney, left, and Tom Foley, right, are vying for the Republican nod for governor in Tuesday's primary. Photo Credit: File Photos

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Republicans across Connecticut who are eager to snatch back the governorship from Democrat Dannel P. Malloy will be casting ballots Tuesday to pick their candidate in November's election.

Only registered Republicans may vote in the GOP primary, which will be held state Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Both of the Republican gubernatorial candidates are familiar to voters across Fairfield County.

Tom Foley, who narrowly lost to Malloy in the 2010 gubernatorial election, won the endorsement of party delegates at the State Republican Convention in May.

John McKinney, who represents Fairfield in the state Senate and is the current minority leader, picked up enough votes at the convention to challenge Foley in the primary.

Foley, a Greenwich resident, is a wealthy businessman who has served in two high-profile government positions. From August 2003 to March 2004, he served as director of private sector development for the Coalition Provisional Authority after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled. He was responsible for overseeing private sector growth and developing foreign trade and investment in Iraq.

President George W. Bush later appointed him U.S. ambassador to Ireland, and he served in that position from October 2006 to January 2009.

In his private sector career, Foley is best known for founding NTC Group, a private investment company, in 1985. NTC took over the Bibb Co., based in Macon Ga., which declared bankruptcy 11 years later.

McKinney, a Fairfield resident, has been the state Senate minority leader since 2007. He was first elected to the state Senate in 1999. He is the son of Stewart B. McKinney, a former congressman for the state's 4th Congressional District.

Both McKinney, 50, and Foley, 62, are graduates of elite universities. McKinney is a 1986 Yale University graduate, while Foley graduated from Harvard.

In the campaign, McKinney has advocated for spending cuts to close a projected $1.4 billion state budget deficit in 2016. He is also advocating eliminating the income tax for middle-class residents. His campaign, largely conducted through television ads, includes one outlining the basics of that plan . (Read more it and watch the ad here on the Daily Voice.)

Foley argues that McKinney's plan would help only a segment of the state's residents. Instead, Foley is calling for a reduction in the state income tax, which he said would benefit everyone in the state.

Foley, who has never held elective office, is casting himself as the outside in the race, compared with McKinney's longtime service in the General Assembly.

Foley is considered the front-runner in the race after his thin margin of loss in 2010 of only 6,400 votes statewide and his endorsement by the Republican Party again this year. He has generally avoided making many specific commitments during the campaign, but says his business experience would help him control the state's budget and spending.

McKinney has been more detailed in his promises and has become increasingly aggressive toward Foley as the campaign comes to a close.

In the most recent recent Quinnipiac Poll, which was released May 9, McKinney trailed Foley. In that poll, conducted before the Republican Party's nominating convention and with more candidates in the race, Foley garnered 39 percent of the support, and McKinney got 8 percent.

The race was crowded at the point, with Mark Boughton, Martha Dean, Mark Lauretti and Joe Visconti, also among the potential GOP candidates.

Read more about McKinney's campaign at his official website , and more about Foley's campaign at his official website .

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