Ending speculation that he would be a self-funder, Republican Tom Foley said Tuesday that he will accept public financing in the race for governor.
Foley is the first Republican to qualify for $1.35 million in financing for the August 12 gubernatorial primary, and he has officially applied for the money. No funding will be granted until a vote by a special state commission that allocates the grants. The winner of the Republican primary will receive $6.5 million in public funding to run in the general election this fall against incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Christopher Cooper, Foley’s spokesman, said Tuesday that “now that Governor Malloy has committed to using the public financing, we are applying for a grant, too.”
Since Foley had not made any public pronouncements until Tuesday, there had been speculation that he would once again spend millions of his own money to run against Malloy. A Greenwich business executive with an MBA from Harvard, Foley spent more than $10 million of his own money in the 2010 race against Malloy that was the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years.
Foley is running in the primary against Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Although Boughton turned out to be Foley’s running mate in the 2010 race against Malloy, he has been critical of his former ticket-mate. Boughton had been running with then-Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele in the 2010 primary, but the lieutenant governor candidates run separately on the ballot and can be matched up eventually with a rival from another ticket.
In the general election, the governor and lieutenant governor candidates run together on the same-party ticket.
Under the law, candidates for governor must raise $250,000 in maximum contributions of $100to qualify for public financing – meaning they need a minimum of 2,500 contributors to their campaign. Political insiders have noted that this task is far more difficult than it appears.
Boughton is now teaming up with longtime Shelton mayor Mark Lauretti on a ticket to reach the $250,000 after his original running mate, Heather Bond Somers, changed her mind and bolted from the ticket after the state Republican convention at the Mohegan Sun casino. Boughton and Somers had held a press conference to announce they were a team and would be raising money together, but the team has now split up.
McKinney is running with lieutenant governor candidate Dave Walker of Bridgeport, who had been the subject of a political attack by state Rep. Lisa Marie “Penny” Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs. Bacchiochi had mentioned Walker’s name in connection with “a whisper campaign” against her because she is married to a black man and has four black stepsons. But Walker said he was never involved in any such conversations with delegates and publicly demanded an apology.
In a late-night apology at the convention, Bacchiochi issued a statement that Walker had never disparaged her family – withdrawing her earlier comments. She then won the convention’s endorsement for lieutenant governor on the following day, but could face a four-way primary on August 12 against Walker, Somers, and Lauretti.
State Democratic chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said, “The question isn’t whether Tom Foley should or should not be taking public financing, it’s whether he’s right for the people of this state. He’s isn’t.’’