Mitt Romney is sending his most reliable emissary to Connecticut the eve of its Republican presidential primary — the woman who could become the next first lady.
Ann Romney, 62, will be the keynote speaker at the April 23 Prescott Bush Dinner, the state’s GOP’s premier fundraiser of the year, party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. confirmed to Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
The event will take place at the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, which earlier this month hosted the Republican frontrunner himself for a donor gathering.
“She will be able to provide a glimpse of life on the presidential trail and provide some personal insights regarding Governor Romney,” Labriola said.
The former Massachusetts first lady and mother of five, who has fought multiple sclerosis and breast cancer, is the first female scheduled to headline the $250 per plate event in its long history.
“She’s a dynamic speaker,” Labriola said. “We very much appreciate the commitment from the Romney campaign to help make our annual event one of the most successful in history.”
Romney’s scheduled appearance represents a “good get” for Connecticut Republicans, a number of whom had previously expressed concerns that the state could be an afterthought this year after abandoning Super Tuesday in early March for a regional presidential primary April 24.
Mitt Romney leads former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum by 23 points in Connecticut, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.
“Governor Romney has sharpened his message over the past several weeks with talk of pro-growth tax cuts, reducing the deficit and energy independence,” Labriola said. “He has the money and organization, which leads me to believe his nomination is a mathematical certainty.”
In Connecticut, 25 delegates will be up for grabs in the GOP primary, which is no longer exclusively a winner-take-all scenario.
The winner of the Republican contest can capture up to 25 delegates under a winner-take-all scenario if he or she receives at least 50 percent of the statewide vote and carries all five congressional districts, which each count for three delegates.
Otherwise, the delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis. Connecticut also boasts three super delegates, who are not bound to a particular candidate and can wait until the national convention to decide.
“Certainly, there will be a strong effort for Governor Romney to top the 50-percent mark in our primary in order to achieve winner-take-all status with our 25 delegates,” Labriola said.
Greenwich’s Tom Foley, the party’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate and U.S. ambassador to Ireland under President George W. Bush, will receive the Prescott Bush Award.
The honor is named after the late U.S. senator from Greenwich and Bush family patriarch.
Foley, a finance committee member for Romney’s campaign in Connecticut, is considering another run for governor in 2014.
The state GOP is bestowing its Women’s Leadership Award on state Rep. Lile Gibbons, R-150th District, who represents Greenwich’s shoreline and is retiring after six terms.
The Fenton P. Futtner Award will go to Bob Parisi, town council chairman in Wallingford.