Republican attorney Martha Dean is dropping out of the race for governor after less than two months.
In an email sent Friday afternoon to The Hartford Courant, Dean said she decided to drop out after the latest Quinnipiac University poll on Friday showed that she had the support of only 5 percent of Republicans. She said she met with her advisors and decided it would be better to ”help Republicans unify” at next week’s state convention “behind a candidate who is best positioned to win” against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“My focus has always been on moving Connecticut in a better direction, one where freedom and government limited by the Constitution prevail, but today’s polling made clear to me that I can best assist in achieving this goal by means other than running for Governor and by helping whoever is the GOP nominee win in November,” Dean said in the email to supporters. “If it takes a GOP primary to decide who we, as Republicans, think is our strongest candidate, so be it. We have excellent Republican candidates this year, and so it is especially important that Republicans avoid tactics that destroy those in our own party who represent Connecticut’s best hope in 2014 for correcting course.”
A conservative Republican who supports gun rights, Dean unexpectedly entered the race on March 11.
A former two-time statewide candidate, Dean could not immediately be reached for comment by telephone, email, or text message. She did not initially send the email to any reporter in the state Capitol press corps but later sent it to The Courant.
Dean did not send the email to state Republican chairman Jerry Labriola, who was reached by telephone Friday at the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I can confirm she has placed a call to me,” Labriola said in between meetings in Memphis. “I tried her back, and I have not connected. … I did try her back. Maybe we will speak shortly.”
Labriola had not received any message that Dean was dropping out of the race and learned about the development from a reporter.
With the state Republican convention set for next Friday and Saturday at the Mohegan Sun casino in southeastern Connecticut, Labriola said there may be other changes coming.
“There’s a lot of moving parts right now,” Labriola said. “It’s going to be an interesting seven days.’’
Dean has been working recently with fellow attorneys who are representing gun owners in their battle against the state’s new gun laws.
The initial word about Dean running for governor trickled out in March from the pro-gun Connecticut Citizens Defense League, which released the news on the group’s blog. Dean confirmed later that she was running, but she declined to answer any questions at that time about her strategy or the campaign. She said she would not not conduct any interviews until speaking the following week at the Old Statehouse in downtown Hartford.
A former candidate for attorney general, Dean lost in 2002 against incumbent Democrat Richard Blumenthal, 66 percent to 34 percent. Eight years later, she won the Republican primary in August 2010 against white-collar defense attorney Ross Garber, 60 percent to 40 percent. Garber, who was counsel to the office of Gov. John G. Rowland during his 2004 impeachment hearings, had the strong backing of much of the Republican Party establishment.
In the general election for attorney general in November 2010, Dean lost to Democrat George Jepsen by 54 percent to 44 percent. A Green Party candidate received about 3 percent of the vote.
Dave Walker, a candidate for lieutenant governor who is the former Comptroller General of the United States, said, “The just-released poll confirms that Governor Malloy can be defeated and his re-election is in serious doubt.”
He added, “The USS Connecticut is sinking. We need the strongest governor and lieutenant governor candidates we can get to navigate to safer waters and create a better future for the state and its residents.”
A Bridgeport resident, Walker lives in the Black Rock section of the city.
Malloy’s campaign spokesman, James Hallinan, declined to comment in detail on the poll, giving the same response that Malloy’s press office has given for more than a year.
“We have tried to be consistent in not saying much about polls because, what’s there to say?” Hallinan said. “Polls come and go, numbers go up and down. The Governor always does what he thinks is best for the state and the right thing to do.”