HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Acknowledging that he didn't spend much time campaigning in Connecticut's cities during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley said Friday that he will focus on urban issues as he attempts to fashion a potential rematch with Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The Republican appeared at a news conference where an urban policy report was released by a think tank that Foley founded, The Connecticut Policy Institute. The group presented a list of suggestions for helping the state's cities, such as making special tax breaks available to more urban employers, providing urban homeowners with financial help to fix up their properties, and expanding either Tweed-New Haven Airport or Sikorsky Memorial Airport.
Foley called the report's recommendations a "good start," but said he is also talking with urban residents to see what they think needs to be done to address issues surrounding crime, housing, employment and education.
"My campaign is developing an urban agenda policy. This is a good framework to start from, but we'll be picking and choosing from these after we get feedback from the people in the communities," Foley said.
Foley narrowly lost the 2010 race to Malloy, who has yet to announce his re-election plans. A Quinnipiac University Poll released this week showed Foley and Malloy are in a dead heat. Foley also leads his fellow Republican contenders in a potential primary.
"I didn't spend much time in the cities last time and we didn't do as well as, certainly as Jodi Rell had done in previous races. I hope we can do better," Foley said, referring to the state's last Republican governor. "But I also believe that the citizens of Connecticut who are facing the biggest challenges, and the ones that government needs to serve the most, are in the cities."
James Hallinan, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, questioned whether Foley can make any political headway with urban voters in 2014.
"I think Mr. Foley is going to try to do what he did last time. He's going to try and buy an election. And I don't think that's going to resonate with the voters in our cities, especially when he's not even going to come out and say he's for a state increase in the minimum wage to $10.10. That is not going to resonate with voters in the state, cities or towns," Hallinan said.
Foley spent more than $10 million of his own money on the 2010 race and has not yet announced whether he'll self-finance his campaign again this year or pursue public funding under the state's public financing system. Following Friday's event, Foley reiterated that he supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. However, he said he did not support Connecticut having a much higher rate than other states.
The extent of Connecticut's economic recovery is expected to be a major issue in this year's governor's race.
Hallinan contends that Malloy has a strong record when it comes to Connecticut's cities, arguing that "the agenda he's put forth will continue the forward progress cities are making."
He credited Malloy's Small Business Express program with helping to create and retain thousands of jobs. Also, he said $26 million has been spent to clean up brownfields, helping cities to reduce blight and expand their tax bases, while "crime is at some of its lowest points in the last four decades."
"Governor Malloy's 2014 agenda continues to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to 30 percent and the proposed increase to $10.10 for the state's minimum wage will help more women, minorities and urban residents rise out of poverty," he said. "The governor's urban record and agenda speak for themselves."