- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - An exchange over the meaning of the name of Republican Tom Foley’s yacht during a debate with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy produced the latest personal attacks Sunday in a tight race marked by overwhelmingly negative advertising.

Foley, a Greenwich businessman, and Malloy, a Democrat seeking a second term, made their arguments to voters over who is the better candidate to improve the economy and create jobs in a final televised debate two days before the election.

It took a nasty turn in response to a question about the names of their boats. Malloy once owned a boat named Sapphire and Foley owns a yacht named Odalisque, a word of Turkish origin for a concubine.

“If I had a boat named after a sex slave, I would have changed the name,” said Malloy, who made no fewer than four “sex slave” references and asked Foley how he, as a father, could give his boat such a name.

Foley said the name is a reference to several great works of art and, in the art world, the name means “a beautiful woman, a beautiful thing.” He also alleged that Malloy was behind on the taxes for his boat before he sold it off and ran for governor.

“At least I pay my bills,” Foley said.

The rematch of the 2010 governor’s race that Malloy narrowly won is shaping up as another close race, with outside groups pumping in millions of dollars on behalf of each candidate. A negative tone carried into the hour-long debate on WTNH-TV as each accused the other of misrepresenting numbers to support their positions.

Foley hammered Malloy for raising taxes by $2.6 billion over two years to help close a $3.6 billion budget deficit.

“So many people feel they can’t afford to live in this state, and governor you’ve contributed to that problem by raising people’s taxes and slowing down the economy,” Foley said.

Malloy said he agrees the tax system is too punishing and he is working to reform it, but he said Foley has not indicated how he will support education or pay for enough police officers as he pledges to cut spending.

Foley also pledged to eliminate a state income tax on Social Security benefits and teacher’s retirement benefits. Malloy said afterward that he was saying such things for the first time because he sees he’s losing, but Foley said he first proposed those cuts a month ago.

In a closing statement, Malloy said the state has made dramatic progress, citing improved school graduation numbers along with progress in the economy that he said would not have been possible under the “slash and burn” policies of former Republican governors.

Foley said private sector wages have declined 10 percent. “We should be doing much better but we need different leadership,” he said.

Conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti, whose name also will appear on the ballot, did not participate in the debate and dropped out of the race Sunday afternoon. He announced he was throwing his support behind Foley instead.

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