Republican Tom Foley, who has said repeatedly that he is running for governor, will make an announcement to open an exploratory committee for governor Tuesday in Bridgeport.
Foley, a business executive from Greenwich who spent more than $10 million of his own money in his first quest for governor in 2010, will make the announcement at a community center on Fairfield Avenue in Brideport’s Black Rock section. Black Rock is a relatively strong area for Republicans in a city that votes overwhelmingly for Democrats.
Ever since losing to Malloy in 2010 in Connecticut’s closest race for governor in more than 50 years, Foley has been talking about a rematch. He created a thinktank that he says is nonpartisan, but Malloy supporters say has been designed to help Foley’s political ambitions.
National Public Radio recently named Malloy among the nation’s “most vulnerable governors’’ in the 36 gubernatorial races in 2014.
The announcement will come on the same day when voters, insiders, and reporters will be distracted with primaries for mayor in New Haven, Stamford, Middletown, Torrington, East Haven, West Haven, Norwalk, Norwich, and other communities. In all, voters in 22 communities will be casting ballots – from Bethel to Bozrah.
In addition, voters in Foley’s home base of lower Fairfield County will be distracted by the primaries in New York City involving high-profile figures including Anthony Weiner for mayor and Eliot Spitzer for comptroller.
In addition, President Barack Obama will be making a major speech to the nation on Tuesday night on Syria.
A longtime Democratic insider was stumped by the timing of an important announcement.
“Foley’s using bad judgment,” the insider said. “If I was handling him, there’s no way it would be tomorrow. The timing is bad.”
Foley’s announcement will be at 11 a.m. at the Burroughs Community Center at 2470 Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport’s far west end. The Black Rock location is near the former homes of U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and former Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim in the city’s most upscale neighborhood.
Regarding fundraising, there is a deadline of September 30 for the quarter – as candidates try to show how much strength they have in the battle. Foley is expected to raise some funds as opposed to being a 100 percent self-funder in the campaign.
Malloy has not made any formal announcements yet for reelection. He would be eligible for about $6 million in public funding in the race.
Two other Republicans, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Sen. Toni Boucher, both have opened exploratory committees. Boucher has stressed that her committee is technically for an unspecified state office, and some insiders believe that Boucher will end up running for lieutenant governor. Senate Republican leader John McKinney has opened a formal committee for governor, saying he doesn’t need to explore anything.
In 2010, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele took longer than expected to qualify for public financing, which insiders say is much harder to do than many realize. Fedele finally went over the top when Boughton was allowed to combine his contributions with Fedele’s to qualify. Foley fought the issue in court, delaying the awarding of the public money to Fedele. Since Fedele and Boughton were running as a ticket, they were allowed to combine resources.
The state Democratic Party had an immediate response to Foley.
“Mr. Foley has a lot of questions to answer,” said Jonathan Harris, a former state senator who is the party’s executive director. “Did he really think taking these people’s jobs away and ruining their retirement security was the right thing to do, and the right way to make millions of dollars?
“After weeks of equivocating, did he really need to pander to the NRA by kind of, almost, maybe saying he would have vetoed the common sense gun safety bill Gov. Malloy signed into law?
“Does he really believe the people of Connecticut will allow him to buy an election?
“Does he still not think former Gov. Rowland did anything wrong?
“And what exactly has Mr. Foley been doing since he lost the 2010 race? Spare us the ‘I started a think-tank’ nonsense. The Connecticut ‘Policy’ Institute’s been nothing but a political front for Mr. Foley, who helped created it and fund it. What has he actually been doing, other than playing politics and pandering to the NRA?
“Under Gov. Malloy’s leadership, the private sector in Connecticut has created almost 50,000 jobs. Landmark education reform is being implemented. Thousands of people will soon for the first time be able to afford quality health insurance. Government is smaller, leaner, and in many cases operating more efficiently and effectively. And we went from having one of the worst budget deficits in the nation to having a surplus, and tens of millions of dollars have been put into the Rainy Day Fund for the first time in years. As Gov. Malloy says all the time, we’re not where we need to be yet, and we have a ways to go. But we are clearly headed in the right direction.
“Mr. Foley, on the other hand, mouths the same old platitudes and espouses support for the same old, failed policies of the past that hurt Connecticut’s middle class. The policies that helped get us into the mess Gov. Malloy’s been digging us out of.
“Mr. Foley has a lot of serious questions to answer and Connecticut deserves to hear them. Again.”
Elissa Voccola, executive director of the Connecticut Republican Party, said in response that “It looks like desperation is already setting in among the supporters of “40 Percent” Malloy – even before he has officially announced his re-election bid. It’s no wonder that the Democrats are desperate to distract attention from Malloy’s woeful handling of Connecticut’s economy which is now — after three years of Malloy’s “leadership” — dead last among the 50 states.”
She added, “Can you blame the Democrats from wanting to change the subject? Malloy’s mismanagement and atrocious policy decisions are certainly not much to talk about.”