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 is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law, clerked for Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer and practiced law at the Connecticut-based firm of Cummings & Lockwood LLC before his election to the General Assembly.
Among the achivements he touts on his Senate website: In 2007, he helped author and pass Jessica's Law for Connecticut, establishing strong mandatory minimum jail sentences for convicted child sex offenders and online child predators.
He also played a key role in crafting a bipartisan package of gun control legislation this year in response to the December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. His support of gun control measures brought him criticism from gun rights advocates, some of whom said they would not support McKinney if he ran for higher office.
In a prepared statement, McKinney said he 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 Governor Dannel P. 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 Governor 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.
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. The father of three children has been the Senate Minority leader since 2007. His legislative district includes Easton, Fairfield, Weston, Westport and Newtown.