In a surprise to many political insiders, conservative Republican Martha Dean said Tuesday that she is running for governor.
The word initially trickled out from the pro-gun Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which released it on the group’s blog. Dean said later that she is scheduled to officially unveil her campaign next Tuesday, March 18, at a time and place that will be announced in the coming days.
The entrance of Dean would shake up the race, bringing a strong gun supporter into a potential Republican primary as the party goes up against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. But Dean’s entrance would be very late, particularly in fundraising, where she would need 2,500 contributors at $100 each to qualify for the public financing matching funds for gubernatorial candidates. Numerous political operatives say that raising that type of money – particularly with just two months before the convention – is much more difficult than it appears.
Malloy has not yet officially announced that he is running, but both Republicans and Democrats fully expect him to be nominated at the party’s convention on Friday, May 16 in Hartford.
In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, Greenwich business executive Tom Foley leads in a potential Republican primary with 36 percent, while Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is in second place at 11 percent. Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield and former West Hartford town council member Joe Visconti both trail at 3 percent.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, who dropped out of the race Tuesday before the news about Dean, was in last place among Republicans in the poll at 2 percent. Boucher, who is running for reelection for her Senate seat in Fairfield County, cited the difficulty in fundraising in her dropping-out announcement Tuesday.
Dean declined to comment to Capitol Watch, saying that she will not be making any statements about her gubernatorial platform until her official announcement next week. She said she has turned down a television interview and will not be speaking to reporters in detail during the next week.
Longtime Democratic political operative Matthew J. Hennessy said that Dean will have an impact on the race with a strong chance of pulling Republicans to the right on gun control.
“She’s not going to win the Republican primary, but she may drag the conversation to places that are not going to help the Republicans in the general election,” Hennessy said.
Republicans, he said, would rather avoid controversial issues in a potentially divisive primary.
“They quickly want to move beyond the gun issue,” Hennessy said. “They don’t want to be bogged down in that discussion. This will be a discussion at every debate where she is allowed to participate.”