Hwang, a Fairfield Republican in his third term representing the 134th House District, announced his Senate campaign to about 100 supporters at a gathering Saturday, saying he wanted to bring a "common-sense approach" and fiscal restraint to the upper chamber in Hartford.
In an interview Tuesday, he said his top priorities are reshaping the state's economy and jobs picture, cutting state spending and taxes, and returning civility to the way businesses is conducted at the Capitol.
Hwang faces competition for the GOP nomination from a fellow Fairfield resident, Nelson Gonzalez, a former General Electric executive.
Democratic state Rep. Kim Fawcett, who represents Fairfield's 133rd District, has said she is considering running for the Senate seat, but has not announced a decision.
The sprawling 28th District includes parts of Fairfield, Westport and Weston, plus the towns of Easton and Newtown.
McKinney, a seven term-term incumbent and the Senate minority leader since 2007, announced last summer he would seek this year's GOP nomination for governor.
"I am so excited Tony is going to take this journey" McKinney said in a news release issued by Hwang's campaign. "I know Tony is going to be my state senator, and that is going to make me very proud."
Hwang's House district includes an eastern portion of Fairfield and part of Trumbull. The appeal of the five-town Senate district, he said, is "an opportunity to represent a larger population and do what we've done with greater impact."
Hwang had been a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker's Fairfield office, but he said Tuesday he has suspended his real estate career "because legislative work is so consuming." He said the career decision "evolved" and was not a result of his decision to run for Senate, he said, but rather evolved.
On the state's economy, Hwang said the state must adjust to 21st century realities.
"We have to create an environment where business believes it can succeed in this state," he said in the interview. "We need to move away from dependence on Wall Street and defense contracts and create (jobs) for the 22nd century.
He cited biotech industries such as gnomics and stem-cell work, plus specialized manufacturing as the kinds of industries Connecticut needs to attract.
Hwang also called for reductions in state government spending and taxation and the adoption of a "spend no more than you make" standard. He said social programs must continue to protect the state's most vulnerable residents but asserted that families and small businesses -- those that employ two to 10 people -- particularly need tax relief, he said.
"State government must reflect the spending patterns of households," he said.
A native of Taiwan who learned English as a second language and graduated from Cornell University, Hwang said he placed a high priority on restoring civility and respect to the way public officials conduct themselves and frame issues.
He called for an end to name-calling in public debate and to negative campaigning.
A former Representative Town Meeting member, Hwang, 49, is married with a daughter in college and a son in high school.