CTNJ file photos
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley (CTNJ file photos)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s campaign brushed off a call from Republican Tom Foley Friday to sign a “formal truce” against negative campaigning. The request came after a bruising debate where Malloy highlighted arrests in Foley’s past.

Foley suggested the truce in response to a Thursday night debate at the University of Connecticut. The forum turned decidedly negative during the final 15 minutes after Malloy recalled the details of two incidents in which Foley was arrested. Malloy said he raised the arrests because Foley brought up a corruption investigation during his tenure as mayor of Stamford. Malloy was cleared of any wrongdoing in 2005.

The Foley camp released a statement Friday morning, formally asking Malloy to accept a truce to refrain from campaigning on “personal matters and things that occurred years ago.” Foley’s statement offered to meet Malloy on the state Capitol steps next week to shake hands and sign an agreement negotiated by both campaigns.

“The people of Connecticut do not want and do not deserve hearing personal attacks with so much at stake in the upcoming election. Voters want to hear about the things that matter to them and deserve a discussion about how the candidates plan to fix this great state,” the Foley statement reads.

In a phone interview, Malloy campaign adviser Roy Occhiogrosso dismissed Foley’s call for a no negativity pledge. He said Foley was calling for a truce only because he was “losing an argument.”

“This guy’s spent two years calling the governor’s character and demeanor into question and for the first time last night governor responded,” he said. “It clearly rattled Mr. Foley, which is why he wants the discussion to end.”

Foley’s campaign has criticized Malloy’s temperament as aggressive and angry. Last month, Foley released a 30-second TV spot called “Angry Dan,” in which a female narrator accuses Malloy of being angry and “taking it out on others.”

“False attacks on Tom Foley, bullying teachers, state employees, taxpayers. Dan Malloy’s arrogance and aggression hurt people. Tom Foley is thoughtful and steady and he has a plan to fix Connecticut. More and better jobs, lower taxes, control over spending, the best schools in America—Tom Foley has the right experience and temperament for a better Connecticut,” the ad’s narrator says.

Occhiogrosso recounted the incidents involving Foley: he was arrested in 1981 and 1993. The first time it was after he was accused of “ramming his car into another car” several times, travelling at high rates of speed. The next time, he was accused of “running his wife off the road with their child in the car.”  In both cases, the charges against Foley were dismissed.

But Occhiogrosso said the accusations speak to Foley’s temperament. He signalled they would continue to be a theme in this year’s election.

“Ultimately the voters will decide whether a person who did that has the character and temperament to be governor,” he said.

Asked whether the campaign would continue to bring up Foley’s past arrests, Occhiogrosso said “Tom Foley has spent the last couple years saying that character and temperament are relevant issues to be considered by the voters. We agree.”

Following Thursday’s debate, Foley called the negative exchanges “kind of a waste of the viewers’ time” and suggested Malloy was on the attack because he wanted to avoid talking about his tenure in office. Foley also said he did not expect Malloy to accept the offer of a truce.

“I believe Gov. Malloy was a much better prosecutor than he has been a governor so I’m not sure he can help himself,” Foley said.