Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley says he has become the first gubernatorial candidate to qualify for public financing by reaching the $250,000 threshold – just before Saturday’s nominating convention.
The campaign announced Thursday that it has raised more than $254,000 and has been averaging more than $5,000 per day over the past week. The contributions must be confirmed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission before Foley – or any other candidate – can receive public financing.
Overall, more than 3,000 contributors have given money to Foley’s campaign, and the campaign is projecting to reach $265,000 during the next week.
The Foley campaign says it is the first Republican campaign in state history to reach the $250,000 threshold without the help of a lieutenant governor candidate and “the first campaign of any party to reach the goal in only three and a half months.”
“Contributors to my campaign have told me they are supporting me because of their concerns for their families and the future of Connecticut,” Foley said Thursday in a statement. “We are going to win the race for governor so we can alleviate those concerns by bringing back the opportunity, optimism and pride we had before Governor Malloy was elected.”
Foley’s contributions will be checked by the State Elections Enforcement Commission before any public money is officially allocated. Under the law, candidates who raise $250,000 in small contributions can receive $1.25 million for a primary in August and then $6 million for the general election in November.
Despite reaching the threshold, Foley – a multimillionaire business executive from Greenwich – is still not sure whether he will accept the money or tap into his own personal funds to run the campaign.
“He hasn’t decided,’’ Christopher Cooper, Foley’s spokesman, said Thursday. “He said he would decide after the convention. That has been his consistent position on that one.’’
During the 2010 race against Democrat Dannel P. Malloy, Foley spent more than $10 million of his own money before losing in the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years. Foley won 128 cities and towns, but Malloy pulled more overall votes by winning 41 cities and towns, including by huge margins in New Haven and Bridgeport. Malloy has close allies in the key city of New Haven with two newly elected officials – Mayor Toni Harp and Democratic Town Committee chairman Vinnie Mauro.
The next public filing date for all candidates is July 10, which will cover all contributions for the second quarter that ends on June 30.
In the latest public filing in April, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield had raised the highest amount of any candidate for governor in the all-important money race. McKinney had raised more than $178,000 in small contributions by the end of the first quarter on March 31. He was followed by Foley at $131,000 at that point and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton at $121,000, according to public documents.
But Boughton had combined with his lieutenant governor candidate, Heather Bond Somers, to raise a combined $184,000 in qualified contributions as they try to reach the necessary threshold of $250,000 to qualify for public financing.
Under a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that involved gubernatorial candidate Mike Fedele of Stamford and lieutenant governor candidate Boughton, running mates can combine their money in order to reach the threshold.
“We picked a very clear path on how to get to our qualifying amount,” Boughton said recently. “Heather has to raise another $20,000, and I have to raise another $45,000. We would like to qualify before walking into the convention.”
The Republicans will be choosing their candidates for governor and other statewide offices at the convention Saturday at the Mohegan Sun casino. Any candidate who receives the votes of at least 15 percent of the delegates – or about 180 votes – will qualify for an August primary. The winner then would run in the fall against Malloy.
The main candidates have said they will be seeking public financing, which requires them to raise $250,000 in amounts up to a maximum of $100.
As such, they need 2,500 contributors at $100 each. If the average falls below $100, then they would need even more contributors — a task politicians say is much more difficult than it appears.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti was in fourth place among Republican gubernatorial candidates last month at more than $110,000, while former West Hartford town council member Joseph Visconti trailed with less than $9,000. Avon attorney Martha Dean has since dropped out of the race.
In addition, lieutenant governor candidate Penny Bacchiochi, a state legislator from Stafford Springs, has raised more than $92,000. Her total would provide a significant boost to any candidate if she joined a ticket.
The most recent money-raising totals covered the period that ended March 31. Malloy has been raising money for the past six weeks for his campaign, but he did not sign his filing papers as a candidate until April 1, which was the start of the next fundraising period. As such, no totals have been publicly released for Malloy or Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
In the latest Quinnipiac University poll that was released last week, Foley was leading among Republicans with 39 percent. Boughton was in second at 9 percent, and McKinney was third at 8 percent.
Dean dropped out of the race Friday after seeing that she received the support of only 5 percent among registered Republicans. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points for the Republican candidates.