(Updated) The trial, and now the conviction of Steven Hayes, has catapulted the issue of the death penalty to the forefront of the gubernatorial contest between Democratic nominee Dan Malloy and Republican nominee Tom Foley. Hayes could face the death penalty for his participation in the murder of three members of the Petit family.

Foley has said he supports the death penalty, while Malloy, a former prosecutor, doesn’t.

Will the issue of the death penalty take center stage Tuesday when the two meet in their first televised debate?

A 2009 public opinion poll by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that 61 percent of Connecticut residents support the death penalty, while 34 percent say abolish it.

Will the death penalty help or hurt Malloy who is currently in the lead?

In the most recent Quinnipiac University poll Malloy was up by three points, which is within the margin or error. Malloy led Foley 45 to 42 percent. A poll by the Merriman River Group in Hamden found that Malloy has a slight lead of 47.5 percent over Foley’s 44.9 percent of the vote. The difference in that poll is also within the margin of error. Click here for the full results.

A Fox News poll has Malloy up by six points over Foley.

The debate at the Belding Theater will air at 7 p.m. on Fox 61 and is sponsored by both Fox 61 and the Courant.

Live blogging begins.

6:20 p.m. Malloy addresses supporters before heading into the Bushnell for the debate. He tells them it’s about creating jobs and preserving the middle class. Foley’s campaign had no presence up and down Capitol Avenue. Independent candidate First Selectman Tom Marsh who was not invited to the debate had a handful of supporters holding signs alongside Malloy supporters.

Foley supporters like former Hartford City Councilman Michael McGarry said Foley’s campaign and supporters were drinking at Arch Street Tavern. Foley’s bus honked at Malloy supporters as it drove by.

6:45 p.m. Former US Rep. Rob Simmons, who failed to garner the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, is now working for Fox61 and the Courant as a political pundit. On the Democratic side Ned Lamont, who failed this year to garner his party’s nomination for governor, is also working for Fox 61 and the Courant.

6:54 p.m. The candidates are introduced. Malloy gets a standing ovation and Foley’s supporters join the standing crowd as their candidate takes the stage.

6:58 p.m. Candidates are doodling notes as we wait for the debate to begin.

7:01 p.m. Breaking news. First question goes to Foley. It’s about the death penalty.

I do think it discourages crimes. Our correction officers are safer. “I also think there’s a fundamental sense of justice.” Even if it excluded them (Cheshire defendants) they would have solid case for why it would apply to them.

7:03 p.m. Malloy expresses grief to Petit family. Any legislation I would sign, these two gentleman if sentence to death that sentence would be carried out. Period.

No ones going to protect your family as well as I would. Foley playing politics.

Foley counters that if death penalty is abolished it would not apply

Commercials: Three lies in 30-seconds.

Malloy: Mr. Foley doesn’t like to tell the whole truth. What we did take old industrial city and change into a financial center of the world. Our city so strong Tom actually moved his company there.  Nobody watching doesn’t believe Stamford a great place to live and work.

7:08 p.m. Foley I like Stamford, but Dan is misrepresenting his record. Stamford lost 13,384 jobs. Foley Stamford has largest achievement gap of any city. Loose with the truth.

7:10 Foley on Malloy campaign ad regarding Bibb. Objective here is to scare state workers. State workers have nothing to fear from me being governor. We can cut state government through attrition. You have nothing to worry about if I’m governor.

7:11 p.m. Malloy Tom was responsible. After Tom was done with the Bibb Company the town of Bibb disappeared. The people who live in that town actually know what you did. You destroyed their lives, jobs, town. You were involved in politics when I was still in high school.

Foley: Bibb Co. didn’t go out of business. It went through a financial restructuring no workers were laid off.

Malloy: It was really unfair for you to walk away with $20 million when people lost their pensions.

7:14 Question on jobs. How are you going to get and keep high-tech jobs?

Foley: Wrong policies, unresponsive state bureaucracy. We have an out of control legislature. DEP 24 months to get a permit to expand. When I’m governor I will fix these things. Lot of employers want to be here if government would just get off their backs.

Malloy: Consolidating three broken agencies supposed to be doing economic development. RBS, Purdue, Nestle, Starwood, NBC, maybe hire somebody whose actually done the things Tom is talking about. Make sure we benchmark every tax we have. Benchmark regulations. Most job creation will be done by small businesses, a majority will be run by women and people of color.

7:17 p.m. Foley: We need to reduce spending not raise taxes. That’s how to lure companies.

7:18 p.m. Malloy: Makes some good points then leads you to things not true. You need to know who government actually works in the state of Connecticut, live within our means set our priorities.

7:19 p.m. Budget Question.

Malloy: Most of those unions did not support me in the primary because they’re afraid Tom is going to do what he did to the Bibb Co. down in Georgia. He would cut 600 executive agency jobs. Move IT structures. Purchasing electric energy differently. Get everyone to the table, the same employees want to play a role in turning this state around.

Foley: I don’t agree long term problems, we can solve this immediately. If I’m governor I would decease incarceration rates. Community based long term care verses nursing home care. There’s a lot of waste in our government. Two cellphones lost state employees, $31,000 wasted. Save that $2 billion

Malloy: He didn’t give you a single cut. I’ve had to disappoint people we’re going to reshape Connecticut

Foley: First it was the governor’s staff, then it was 7500, now it’s 600.

Malloy: Tom you really don’t understand government. There’s a lot riding out there for the middle class.

Foley: Really need to do more homework if you want to run for governor.

7:26 p.m. Question state employee benefits.

Malloy: Tom keeps referring to 60 percent of payroll and benefits, because our state government failed to fund benefits 1984. Adopt structural change. GAAP accounting. Those privatization experiments, drainage systems of I-84, school construction projects. We need to create efficiencies.

Foley: Riverview Hospital 80 young patients. $922,000 a year to care for these young people, private outside contractor will to do it for less.

Malloy: Riverview existed as it has under Republican administration 16 years.

7:30 p.m. Questions from the candidates to each other.

Foley to Malloy. Have you made any commitments to the unions? Please give me a yes or no answer. Malloy answers No.

Malloy: If you want to make teachers the enemy you go ahead. Tom you are so disconnected from the people of this state’s it’s so unbelievable.

Foley: Widely believed you have made commitments to unions and it would be difficult to be candid with the voters.

Malloy: Fact you repeat things more than three times doesn’t make it true.

Carl Cameron asks the audience and the candidates to back down.

Malloy to Foley: Why did you leave it up the way you did if you don’t agree with everything Mark Boughton stands for?

Foley: I didn’t choose a running mate. It’s also important for people to understand the governor sets the policy. What I promise to voters is what the voters will get. Mark very qualified for the job. Our resumes fit together perfectly. Talked to him about how we’d deivide responsibilities.

Malloy: It’s okay running mate anti-choice, doesn’t support the minimum wage. Our governor was previously lieutenant governor, what your lack of leadership did endangering welfare of the people of this state.

7:36 p.m. Foley: you have no one in your government that’s met a payroll. You’re missing important part of experience on the ticket.

Logan Brynes question on achievement gap and education.

Malloy: I signed application two charter schools in the city of Stamford. Larger closure. 70 percent of the 10th graders reading and performing at grade level. Tom doesn’t know how to read that document.

Foley: Involved in education over 15 years. I want to be known as jobs and education governor. Important school reforms. We need school choice. We need money following the child. We need performance pay for teachers. We need to measure teachers performance. We need to find out a way to retire them from the system. The charter schools Dan talks about are unionized. 

Malloy: The charter schools are state charter schools. We closed gap state dollars going to institution. Race to the Top of course I support it.

Foley: You just can’t tell the audience what they want to hear.

Logan Brynes question on achievement gap and education.

Malloy: I signed application two charter schools in the city of Stamford. Larger closure. 70 percent of the 10th graders reading and performing at grade level. Tom doesn’t know how to read that document.

Foley: Involved in education over 15 years. I want to be known as jobs and education governor. Important school reforms. We need school choice. We need money following the child. We need performance pay for teachers. We need to measure teachers performance. We need to find out a way to retire them from the system. The charter schools Dan talks about are unionized. 

Malloy: The charter schools are state charter schools. We closed gap state dollars going to institution. Race to the Top of course I support it.

Foley: You just can’t tell the audience what they want to hear.

Question:  Why do you want to be governor. Which policy decision do you most dread?

Foley: One of things most proud of business career made those decisions fairly. Take into account families, never trade long term for the short term. I have a plan, I was surprised when I got into this race, none of the other candidates had a plan. I know based on my private sector experience, two terms serving in government I know I can fix these things now.

Malloy: Born middle class family youngest of eight children. Obligation leave this world a better place. Toughest decisions are are the ones that effect people’s lives, who will have a job, who will lose health care.

Question: Things Rell has done right.

Malloy: Rell restored a sense of decency. Transportation, job creation, reformation of education, she fails. She’s a wonderful person but it’s time to change direction. I’ve laid out 72 pages of policy. Can we do all of the things in the first year? No. I’m going to take state in different direction. Local governments partners not our enemies.

Foley: Last week policy was 17 pages long.

Malloy: You can go on the Internet that is simply not true.

Crowd gets rowdy.

Foley: I would have vetoed the budget last year. Single party overwhelming control of the House and the Senate. Waited until they saw results of primary and gave him $3 million more dollars, kind of abuse we’re getting in our legislature. We need check and balance in Hartford to get our legislature under control.

Malloy: A majority of the governor’s vetoes were actually upheld. Never overridden on a spending bill. Maximum $9 million limit it to $6 million. People like you not willing to tell the whole truth.

Foley: I really mean what I said. Democracy in Connecticut not being well-served by have one party control of one branch. Single party in Washington controls the Congress and the White House. Applause.

Lightening round.

One word describe opponent:

Malloy: rich
Foley: Loose-with-truth

Debate is wrapping up with closing arguments. Foley goes first Malloy will follow.

Join us soon for the after debate spin, which will have Malloy describing himself as a change agent and Foley describing himself as an outside.