Republican Tom Foley is finally ready to make his entrance.
Foiled in his previous run for governor by a mere 6,500 votes, the former U.S. ambassador to Ireland and private equity manager from Greenwich is expected to embark this month on his campaign for the state’s highest office, multiple people familiar with Foley’s plans tell Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
Foley declined to comment Tuesday about the race or his timetable for the 2014 race, which is coming into sharper focus now that Labor Day is in the rear-view mirror.
In 2010, Foley spent $11 million of his own money in an unsuccessful effort against the publicly-funded former Stamford Mayor Dannel. P. Malloy, who was recently ranked among the most vulnerable governors up for re-election next year by National Public Radio.
“I talk to Ambassador Foley regularly and I have never sensed any ambiguity regarding his intentions,” state GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said. “With only eight months until our state party convention, it’s time to get our field set, and I welcome Tom into the race. Connecticut’s economy has tanked under the tax, spend and borrow policies of Governor Malloy, and Tom can make a strong case of how things could have been different.”
State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo questioned the neutrality of Labriola in the GOP nominating contest while defending Malloy’s record.
“So should I assume that Jerry Labriola is endorsing Tom Foley as the Republican candidate for governor?” DiNardo said. “Is Jerry not aware of what has been happening in the last three-and-a-half years, how there’s a $400 million budget surplus and there’s almost 50,000 private sector jobs that have been created and the governor erased a $3.7 billion deficit and reduced spending growth by 6 percent?”
Since his electoral setback, Foley, 61, has maintained his visibility throughout the state, starting a New Haven-based think tank known as the Connecticut Policy Institute that has frequently criticized the economic policies of the Malloy administration.
Malloy’s surrogates say that the organization is nothing more than a political vehicle for Foley, a prolific bundler of campaign cash for Republican candidates whose opponents have accused him of destroying a Georgia textile firm purchased by his investment company.
Before Foley can count on a rematch with Malloy, he faces competition for the GOP nomination from state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, of Fairfield, who declared his candidacy in July. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Sen. Toni Boucher, of Wilton, are also exploring running for governor.
McKinney is trying to qualify for public financing for his campaign, which is the route Boughton and Boucher will take should they decide to run for governor.
But self-funding candidates have a poor track record in Connecticut, with Labriola telling the Hartford Court that “perhaps the age of massive self-funders in Connecticut is over” after wrestling matriarch Linda McMahon lost her second bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012. McMahon spent $100 million of her personal fortune between the 2012 and 2010 races.