A Quinnipiac University poll in May found that 69 percent of Republicans surveyed opposed stricter gun control laws passed following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. But it’s unknown how many of them will show up Tuesday to vote in the Republican gubernatorial primary between Sen. John McKinney and Tom Foley.
McKinney, who represents Newtown, voted in favor of the bipartisan legislation and as a result received criticism from Second Amendment supporters. Meanwhile, Foley — who hasn’t said he would repeal the legislation or whether he supports restrictions on assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines — is poised to benefit from McKinney’s support of that one bill.
Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said he’s hoping today’s primary is McKinney’s “political swan song.”
Wilson said his group didn’t endorse Foley. But by not supporting McKinney, Foley will be getting their vote.
“A number of our members along with other interested parties have been phone banking in opposition to McKinney,” Wilson said Monday.
Voters who believe in the Second Amendment and the rest of the constitution will help Foley win, he said.
However, Foley doesn’t believe his position on the Second Amendment will lead him to victory.
“I’m very grateful for their support, but . . . I think that support for my candidacy both in November and here in the primary is very broad,” Foley said Monday during a stop in West Hartford. “We’ve seen no movement from our supporters in 2010 or more recently in this primary away from me.”
He said his support includes the “Second Amendment people, but is much broader than that.”
Foley claims his campaign has telephoned 50,000 voters since last Friday who said they plan to vote for him today. If voter turnout remains low, around 100,000, Foley said he feels good about his chances based on the math.
In the absence of any public polling, Ron Schurin, a professor at the University of Connecticut, opined last week that McKinney has a chance to beat Foley if he can capitalize on low statewide voter turnout, strong support in Fairfield County, and the perception among some in the party that he would make a stronger candidate against the incumbent Democrat.
“It would be a very significant upset,” Schurin said.
McKinney spent all of his time Monday in Fairfield County reaching out to senior citizens and commuters.
During their last televised debate on Sunday, McKinney said that as governor he’s not going to focus on the gun bill or making modifications to that law.
“I’m going to focus on growing our economy and creating jobs,” McKinney said.
He said he was proud to represent his constituents in Newtown.
“At the end of the day my job was to represent my constituents,” McKinney said. “You know a lot of times in politics people stand on the sidelines and criticize what we do rather than roll up their sleeves, get in, and try to work on things. I’ve never been the type that wants to sit on the sidelines and criticize.”