This year marks the 40th anniversary of Westhill High School’s first graduating class in Stamford.
But it’s no ordinary reunion.
In that Class of 1973 was first-term Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, a Republican who is making overtures about challenging his former classmate in 2014.
“If I feel that this is the right time for myself, my family and the state of Connecticut, I probably would stick my toe in the water,” Fedele on Friday told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers, which owns The (Stamford) Advocate.
The GOP field is starting to take shape for next year, with former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, who lost by 6,500 votes to Malloy in 2010, and state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield unofficially entering the fray.
The race has also whet the appetite of House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr. of Norwalk and could draw interest from Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
“It’s an interesting field. I had the honor and privilege to serve with three of the four individuals,” Fedele said, referring to his time in the General Assembly representing the 147th District and working with McKinney, Cafero and Boughton, a former state rep.
Fedele, 57, whose personal story as an Italian immigrant-turned-self-made millionaire businessman made him the early favorite in the 2010 GOP race, lost a bitter primary to Foley.
“One of the things you learn in this business is you have to have thick skin,” said Fedele, who characterized Foley as a friend. “I wish him well in whatever he does.”
From 2007 to 2011, Fedele served as lieutenant governor under M. Jodi Rell, who did not seek re-election in 2010.
He has since returned to the helm of his Stamford-based information technology company, The Pinnacle Group.
“Government service is not a career for me, and many of the folks who are in office and are looking to run have made it a longtime career,” Fedele said.
Fedele questioned the direction of the state under his former classmate, while tempering his criticism of Malloy.
“I think the state has really been hit,” Fedele said. “I think Dan went after the low-hanging fruit – which is taxes – and continued to spend. The reality is under his watch is taxes have gone up and spending has continued to increase.”
Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba characterized Fedele’s comments as a case of revisionist history.
“Mr. Fedele was Lieutenant Governor when the state borrowed nearly $2 billion dollars to cover its operating expenses,” Doba said. “He played a key role in an administration that saddled Connecticut with a $3.6 billion deficit. He must be suffering from the worst case of amnesia in political history.”