Vernon Mayor Jason McCoy said the U.S. Senate needs more members who have experience as chief executives delivering services within a balanced budget.

He said taxes increased only once during his four years as mayor and the mill rate is lower now than when he took office.

“Last year taxes went down for every citizen,” he told the East Hartford Republican Town Committee last Monday during a brief talk about his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman, who is not seeking a fifth term.

McCoy, who announced this summer, four days before the local Republican caucus, that he would not run for a third term as mayor, quickly established an exploratory committee and then formally entered the race last month.

“I think experience as a chief executive is valuable whether it’s in business or in government,” said McCoy, whose grandfather, Frank McCoy, served as mayor of Vernon for eight years between 1969 and 1979.

“Everybody wants something and you have to figure out how to provide those services and keep people happy,” he said.

“I don’t like the way Gov. Malloy put together his budget,” McCoy said. “But I respect that he put together a budget that you can count on at the end of the year.”

McCoy , who said he had been thinking about running for the U.S. Senate for the last two years, is competing against former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays of Bridgeport, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon and attorney Brian K. Hill of Windsor.

The Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in Connecticut since Lowell Weicker was elected to a third term in 1982.

East Hartford Republican Town Committee Treasurer Jon Searles, who hasn’t endorsed a candidate, said he was impressed with the speech that McCoy gave at last year’s Republican state convention.

“He has some experience and he has some potential,” he said. “I’d like to hear more of what he has to say.”

McCoy has raised just $15,000 and is running his campaign operation out of the building where he has his solo law practice, which primarily handles litigation and bankruptcy cases.

McCoy said he hopes to raise $2.5 million by the convention next May and would need $10 million to win the seat.

“With Chris Shays getting in, it has made it more difficult,” he said of the former congressman, who represented the Fourth District for more than 21 years.

“Linda McMahon is obviously wealthy,” McCoy said, noting that she spent $50 million last year when she lost by 12 points to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Greenwich.

McMahon took nearly 50 percent of the vote last year to capture the GOP nod in a primary against former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington and Peter Schiff of Weston, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital.

“I think she’s got as good a shot as anybody else this time,” East Hartford Republican Town Committee Chairman Joe Kronen said.

Searles said McMahon “is a likeable person,” but cautions “that her poll numbers show that she has high negatives, and I don’t see how she overcomes that.”

Searles, who supported Schiff last year, said he’s not sure that any of the current candidates will be able to generate as much support as Schiff did from the Tea Party since they aren’t as conservative on “fiscal policy.”
He said, for example, that Shays didn’t support “sound economic policy” while he served in Congress.

McCoy said he the federal government lacks fiscal discipline.

“It hasn’t had a budget for almost 900 days,” McCoy said. “How can you keep working off of continuing resolutions?”

He said the increase in the federal debt ceiling this summer provided President Barack Obama with an excuse to spend more money.

“If he wants a $500 billion jobs plan, then he should find that money within the existing budget,” McCoy said. “If you gave him only ‘X’ amount of dollars, he’d have to make the decisions and renegotiate contracts.”

He said he would have voted against the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program that rescued some of the major banks.

“It only delayed the inevitable and made things worse,” he said. “When the banks foreclosed on things it didn’t allow the system to reset itself.”