The race for governor has begun.
Republican State Senator John McKinney is the first candidate to make it official. He made his announcement on Tuesday not with a big news conference but rather by press release.
Election Day 2014 is still 16 months away and it's likely McKinney will face some stiff competition from members of his own party before entering a general election campaign.
A confident McKinney said he isn't too concerned about a bruising primary fight.
"I plan on being the Republican nominee for governor in November of 2014," he said.
The Republican field could get crowded. Tom Foley, a 2010 candidate is likely to get in, as could Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
A recent Quinnipiac Poll gives Gov. Malloy a 7-point lead over McKinney. In a primary match up Foley leads with 36-percent, followed by McKinney with 11-percent.
In his hometown of Fairfield the Republican leader told us he won't go negative in his campaign. He said he plans on focusing on the man who holds the job now.
"In the last two years Dan Malloy has given us the largest tax increase in our state's history," McKinney said.
He has spoken out against Governor Malloy's fiscal policies.
State Democrats fired back saying that McKinney is out of touch with the middle class.
"It's one thing to be a nice guy but it's another thing to know what Connecticut's middle class really needs," April Capone, the political director of the Connecticut State Democratic Party, said.
McKinney has been known to work with lawmakers across the aisle. He was a key supporter of the gun legislation crafted after the Sandy Hook School shooting.
"At the end of the day as an elected official I have to do what I believe is in the best interest of my constituents and what a majority of my constituents want us to do," he said.
The senator represents Newtown and said he is not worried about criticism from some in his own party. Moments after McKinney announced his candidacy on Tuesday, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, said they would not support him.
"Senator McKinney was instrumental in implementing a historic gun control law with zero consideration for the constitutional rights of law abiding gun owners," Scott Wilson, Sr. the president of CCDL, said. "With his deliberate act of siding with gun control supporters, there will be no support from CCDL for his run."
McKinney, a native of Fairfield and father of three, has served in the legislature since 1998. His late father, Stewart McKinney, was a congressman representing Fairfield County.
He said what he learned in his hometown he hopes to take with him to the governor's residence.
"There's a lot about Fairfield that speaks to the rest of Connecticut," McKinney said.
Gov. Malloy has yet to officially announce his bid for a second term.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com