While Connecticut's Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley may have hugged it out before their last debate at the request of radio hosts Chaz and AJ, their battle for the governor's seat remains fierce a day before the election.
The debate started in Milford at 8:30 a.m. and aired live on "Chaz and AJ In The Morning" on rock radio station 99.1 PLR.
Just a day after unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti announced that he is suspending his campaign, Foley said he welcomed the unaffiliated candidate's support.
"This is about guns," Malloy said in response Visconti's endorsement of Foley, referencing Foley's opposition to new gun control legislation in the state.
Answering the opening question about jobs in Connecticut, Malloy touted his job creation record but admitted the state workforce has been reduced by about 1,000 people since he took office.
Malloy said he has "no plans to eliminate future workers," but added that there is "always the possibility that the use of technology will allow us to do things more effectively."
Foley promised not to cut state workers' jobs and vowed to lower car and property taxes.
"People are feeling the big squeeze," he said. "I'm not happy and most people I'm talking to aren't."
After Foley criticized Malloy for tax hikes and spending increases, the incumbent defended his administration's decisions, saying he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman have budgeted responsibly. Malloy explained that he didn't cut the budget because it would have led to job losses, hospital closures and police and fire layoffs.
The governor also said he plans to reinstitute tax cuts on prescription drugs if re-elected.
"We've weathered tough storms and human tragedies. I'm asking for your vote," Malloy said.
With a day to go before the polls open, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows Malloy pulling support from 47 percent of likely voters to Foley’s 44 percent. Seven percent remain undecided. The results were released soon after Visconti suspended his campaign and endorsed Foley.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, independent candidate Joe Visconti’s last minute exit from the governor’s race doesn’t look like it will help Republican Tom Foley,” said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement.
This is the second time the two candidates are in a battle for the governor's seat. In 2010, Malloy defeated Foley in the general election after a heated race.
Chaz and AJ closed the debate by having Malloy and Foley participate in a more light-hearted battle – Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.
Malloy's blue robot quickly defeated Foley's red one. The radio personalities quipped that when they asked the candidates to play four years ago, the winner of the game ended up also winning the election.
Monday's gubernatorial debate was the last before the polls open Tuesday.
National party leaders are maintaining a presence in the state in the hours leading up to one of the closest governor's races in the country.
President Barack Obama rallied support for Malloy in Bridgeport on Sunday, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will appear in Windsor Locks alongside Foley this evening.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com