Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign waited about 13 hours after Tom Foley won the Republican gubernatorial nomination before releasing the first negative ad of the general election.
Foley, who lost narrowly to Malloy in 2010, clinched a rematch Tuesday when he beat his primary challenger Senate Minority Leader John McKinney.
The ad released by the Malloy camp Wednesday morning tries to capitalize on video footage from Foley’s press conference in July, which was widely-regarded as disastrous for the candidate.
Foley scheduled the event outside a shuttered paper mill in Sprague, hoping to use the business’s closure as evidence that Malloy’s policies weren’t working. However, the event devolved into a bickering match between Foley, some of the plant’s workers, and Democratic Sprague First Selectwoman Cathy Osten.
The 30-second TV spot shows Foley accusing one of the plant’s employees of attempting to “malign management.”
“Listen, you have failed because you’ve lost these jobs,” Foley says.
Following the clip, a narrator accuses Foley of attacking workers and defending the management company that shut down the paper mill. The narrator draws parallels between the mill’s closure and to the closure of a Bibb Co. facility in Georgia. The facility was shut down after a firm founded by Foley sold the company.
The Bibb plant was a subject Foley’s opponents cited often during his unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Democrats were widely-expected to use the Sprague incident to highlight Foley’s record as founder of a private equity firm.
McKinney aired a similar ad less than a week before Tuesday’s primary election. A press release with McKinney’s ad said his commercial was “mild compared to what Democrats will do with with this unfortunate episode.” The Republican’s ad did not directly point to the Bibb facility’s closure.
Malloy’s ad ends with the narrator saying, “Foley and his company made $20 million. Tom Foley: some things never change.” The campaign named the TV spot “The More Things Never Change…”
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Foley said he had not yet seen the ad.
“Listen, these are character attacks. They’re attacks on people’s motives,” Foley said. “I think it’s inexcusable. First of all they’re not true. But second of all why is the governor spending money talking about things like that rather than talking about, engaging in a dialogue about what is the right policy direction for the state?”
Just before Malloy released the ad, the Republican Governors Association sent reporters an email that also pointed back to the 2010 election. The email referenced a Courant story on the final 2010 debate between Malloy and Foley. According to the story, Malloy said “we’re not raising taxes” during the debate.
“Malloy’s jaw must have broken telling that lie to voters. Months later, Malloy did raise taxes. In fact, he signed into law the ‘largest tax increase in state history.’ Come November, voters will remember Malloy can’t be trusted to keep his word and will hold him accountable by electing Republican nominee Tom Foley,” RGA Communication Director Gail Gitcho said in the email.