Connecticut Governor Candidates Spar Over Death Penalty

The two major party candidates for Connecticut governor slugged it out Tuesday night in a live, televised debate covering the death penalty, their attack ads, creating jobs and other state issues.

At The Bushnell Center for Performing Arts in Hartford, Republican Greenwich businessman Tom Foley and Democratic former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, who are running neck and neck, unleashed sharp barbs on each other, attacking each other's records.

Fox News' Carl Cameron moderated the debate.

The debate over the death penalty came on the same day a paroled burglar was convicted of murdering a woman and her two daughters during a night of terror inside the family's home in a well-to-do Connecticut town.

The killer, Steven Hayes, could be sentenced to death, and both candidates said they would support that ruling. His co-defendant faces trial next year and could be sentenced to death too.

Foley supports the death penalty while Malloy wants to eliminate it  for future crimes, but he added, "If these two gentlemen are sentenced to death, that sentence will be carried out. Period."

Foley said Hayes and the co-defendant would likely still successfully appeal any death sentences if the law is changed.

Connecticut lawmakers recently voted to abolish the state's death penalty, but Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill. Death penalty opponents are expected to raise the issue again in the coming legislative session.

In Tuesday's debate, Malloy cited his background as a prosecutor who won convictions in 22 of 23 felony cases.

"I'm the only person running for governor who's put somebody away for life," he said. "So I want to be clear. No one is going to protect your family as well as I will."

The two candidates met last week for a debate in Greenwich, sponsored by News 12, where the candidates took aim at one another's records.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week showed Malloy leads Foley 45 percent to 42 percent among likely voters, but that's within the survey's margin of error.

Both men are vying to fill the job being vacated by Rell.