HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – John McKinney, the Republican leader of the state Senate, announced Tuesday he is running for governor in 2014, saying he hopes to restore fiscal prosperity to Connecticut.
The eight-term Fairfield lawmaker announced his candidacy in a news release emailed to reporters. The statement said McKinney has filed the necessary paperwork to start a candidate committee and begin collecting contributions to qualify for the state’s public campaign financing program.
“Over the coming weeks, we’ll work to build support and a statewide organization to help put Connecticut back on the right track,” McKinney said.
McKinney criticized Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy‘s approach to rebuilding the state’s economy, saying the first-term governor “by almost every measure” has taken Connecticut’s economy in the wrong direction.
“After three years of picking winners and losers and giving away hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to big corporations already based in Connecticut, the results of Gov. Malloy’s economic policies speak for themselves: Connecticut is losing,” he said.
McKinney indicated he planned to run for governor in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media Group, published on Sunday.
Malloy has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term. He has argued, however, that his policies have moved Connecticut in the right direction economically and saying “we’re in substantially better shape than where we were when we began.”
Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, the party’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate, has said he will likely run for governor. Joseph Visconti of West Hartford, Gordon Ward of Manchester and Scott Merrell of Norwalk have already filed as Republican candidates for governor with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Other possible contenders include Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti.
Republican Strategist Chris Healy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau that McKinney, Foley, and Boughton all have the perspective to change the course of things in the state.
“They understand that Connecticut’s economy continues to suffer by big government, by high taxes, and regulation,” he told Schneidau.
Healy expressed confidence that the 2014 election will produce a Republican governor.
“I believe there are many unaffiliated Democratic voters who are not happy with the bill of goods that Dan Malloy sold them and all they’ve ended up with is just a bill,” he said.
Last month, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, announced he would not run.
The 49-year-old McKinney is the son of the late 4th District Rep. Stewart B. McKinney. A graduate of Yale University and University of Connecticut School of Law, McKinney practiced law at the Connecticut-based firm Cummings & Lockwood LLC before his election to the General Assembly. He also was a law clerk to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The father of three children has been the Senate Minority leader since 2007.
McKinney’s legislative district includes Easton, Fairfield, Weston, Westport and Newtown. He played a key role in crafting a bipartisan package of gun control legislation this year in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
His support of gun control measures brought him criticism from gun rights advocates. Scott Wilson, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said McKinney would not get his group’s support because the Republican was “instrumental in implementing a historic gun control law with zero consideration for the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
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