Don’t tell Tom Foley or Ned Lamont that the 2010 campaign is over.
Thwarted in their respective bids to become governor, an office that went to former Stamford Mayor Dannel P. Malloy, the two political rivals from Greenwich will headline a Yale Law School debate on the “state budget crisis” Monday night in New Haven.
The title of the 30-minute debate and ensuing question-and-answer session for students: “Is Connecticut Wisconsin?”
The event is sponsored by the American Constitution Society, Federalist Society, Yale Law Democrats, Yale Law Republicans, Yale College Democrats and Yale College Republicans.
“Ned and I will need at least two (moderators) between us,” said Foley, a Republican who lost to Malloy by about 6,500 votes in the November election, a contest marred by a ballot shortage in Bridgeport and a week of wrangling between the two camps before the race was conceded.
Foley, a venture capitalist and GOP fundraiser who served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland under President George W. Bush, showed that there is no love lost between him and Malloy.
“From a policy standpoint, they’re literally tone deaf,” Foley said the proposed budget put forth by Malloy’s administration, which eyes $1.5 billion in new taxes to close a $3.3 billion budget deficit inherited by the Democrat.
“I made it clear in my campaign that I felt we spent too much money in Connecticut,” Foley said. “Government costs too much. Governor Malloy obviously feels differently.”
Lamont, cable television entrepreneur who lost the August Democratic primary to Malloy, a race that the state’s leading public opinion poll showed him winning, is saving his commentary on his rival’s budget proposal until the Elm City showdown.
“Tom and I both have a pro-jobs and a business orientation, so there will be some similarities there,” Lamont said. “Maybe the structure or specifics of the budget there will be a parting of the ways.”
Lamont, who vaulted onto the national political stage with his victory over Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic Senate primary but lost the general election to Lieberman, sat in the front row Monday night for a listening tour stop by Malloy in Greenwich.
Choosing to stay away from the event, Foley recently started his own think tank called the Connecticut Policy Institute, a Manchester-based 501(c)(4) organization that he said is nonpartisan and will churn out regular white papers.
“It’s meant to be a voice for good long-term economic policy for the state and education reform,” Foley said.
Foley said that the think tank, which has a modest staff and will cost about $250,000 annually to operate through donations, is not meant to be a voice of opposition to Malloy.
Still, Foley made it no secret that he is gunning for Malloy in 2014, when he said the negative consequences of the Democrat’s budget proposal will create an opening for the GOP.
“If that’s the case and the Republican Party wants me, I’d be inclined to do it,” Foley said.