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Conn. Gov Hopefuls Spar Over Death Penalty, Ads

Democratic candidate for governor Dan Malloy, left, and Republican candidate Tom Foley debate in Hartford. (AP Photo/John Woike, Pool)

Democratic candidate for governor Dan Malloy, left, and Republican candidate Tom Foley debate in Hartford. (AP Photo/John Woike, Pool)

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/1010 WINS) — The two major-party nominees for governor took aim at each other’s resumes in a televised debate Tuesday and sparred over issues ranging from the state’s death penalty to the looming budget deficit.

The live debate was held the day a man was convicted of the 2007 home invasion killings of a woman and her two daughters. The first question of the debate was about where Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy stood on the state’s death penalty, which some lawmakers have been pushing to repeal.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Kathleen Maloney reports

Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, said he supports abolishing executions in Connecticut only for future crimes. He said that wouldn’t benefit Steven Hayes, who faces possible execution for the July 2007 slayings in Cheshire.

Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former ambassador to Ireland, said Hayes and his co-defendant, who’s awaiting trial, likely would be successful in appealing death sentences if the state’s death penalty law were scrapped because they could use it in their appeals.

“It’s almost certain that Steven Hayes and his accomplice in this crime will not be put to death (if Malloy is elected governor),” Foley said.

Malloy said the longest-serving death row inmate in Connecticut has been facing his possible execution for 22 years. He said the state doesn’t have “a workable” death penalty, and he told Foley “you can’t assure anything is going to happen.”

Hayes’ attorneys have said they’ll argue for a life sentence.

Tuesday’s debate came as a recent Quinnipiac University poll gave Malloy a slight lead in the race to replace Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who isn’t seeking re-election. An independent candidate, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, wasn’t invited to participate in the debate, which was held at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and was sponsored by FoxCT and the Hartford Courant.

As with Monday’s Senate debate, both major-party candidates were shown each other’s recent critical TV ads. Malloy’s spot accuses Foley of laying off workers and bankrupting a Georgia textile mill he once owned while receiving $20 million — accusations also made during the Republican primary.

Foley again vehemently denied the charges. He said his management company and its employees received compensation but he didn’t know how much.

“You’re misrepresenting what is happening,” Foley said to Malloy in one of their many spirited exchanges. “Why don’t you be truthful with the voters?”

“Tom, release the papers, that’s all you have to do,” Malloy shot back, adding how it was unfair of Foley “to walk away with $20 million when people lost their pensions.”

Throughout the debate, Malloy tried to paint himself as an experienced, successful problem-solver who’s well-versed in public policy. He accused Foley of being a rich CEO who’s short on facts and unfamiliar with the problems middle-class families face.

Foley also tried to portray himself as a successful problem-solver with a proven record of turning around troubled companies. Given the difficult fiscal times, he said, Connecticut needs someone with his experience and skills. He frequently accused Malloy of being a career politician who has exaggerated his successes.

Foley accused Malloy of being too cozy with state employee unions, making it difficult for him to solve the state’s budget deficit problems. Connecticut’s projected $19.1 billion general fund budget for 2012 is predicted to be $3.4 billion short.

Foley said it’s widely believed Malloy has made commitments to the unions not to lay off workers, a charge Malloy denied.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)