Candidates Leverage Death-Penalty Support for Triple Murder to Win Votes

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Photo: Petit family photo via New York Post

Debate on the death penalty is roiling Connecticut, one of only two states in the Northeast that support capital punishment, as the jury is set to decide the fate of Steven Hayes next week. Hayes, a former parolee, has already been found guilty of triple murder and rape in a horrifying home invasion that killed Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Three-quarters of registered voters support capital punishment for Hayes, versus only two-thirds who support the death penalty overall, according to a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday. As the midterms approach, GOP candidates are trying to capitalize on the public's anger. GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman, dared his Democratic rival Dan Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, to continue pushing Malloy's plan to abolish the death penalty. This week, Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon accused her opponent, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, of flip-flopping and "pandering" to voters. Blumenthal's campaign manager says he opposed the issue after helping overturn the case of an innocent man on death row, but now favors capital punishment in heinous cases. We realize this is how the political system works — find hot-button issues and campaign on them — but something about this feels more self-serving and insincere than usual.

Killings Fuel Election Debate [WSJ]