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Connecticut Republicans to vote in primary on Tuesday

(Reuters) - Connecticut Republicans went to the polls on Tuesday to choose a candidate to take on the state's Democratic incumbent governor, Dannel Malloy, in the November elections.

Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former ambassador to Ireland whom Malloy narrowly defeated four years ago, is facing off against John McKinney, the minority leader of the State Senate. Recent public opinion surveys suggest the race will be close.

The Hartford Courant has endorsed McKinney, whose district includes Newtown, for the Republican nomination, in part because it said he has the trust of Democrats, who will almost certainly hold onto their majority in the state legislature.

Foley, who won the party's endorsement, "is often light on details in his proposals," the newspaper wrote.

November's general election is expected to be competitive.

Malloy, the first Democrat to win the governorship in 20 years, has suffered from tepid approval ratings and has faced criticism over his handling of the economy and energizing the state's business climate.

Malloy is hoping to turn his response to the mass shooting in late 2012 at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, which left 20 children and six adults dead, into a strength. In the shooting's aftermath, Connecticut passed one of the strictest gun control laws in the country.

One of Malloy's ads features Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was among those killed in the Newtown shooting.

"A bright spot for Malloy is that voters think he has strong leadership qualities and is honest and trustworthy," Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said after the organization's last poll, in May.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Bill Trott)

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