Why Foley? Why Waterbury?

Tom Foley, the 2010 gubernatorial runner-up, couldn’t exactly pick his hometown of Greenwich to end the “exploratory” phase of his current bid for the state’s top job today. The land of Lamborghinis and hedge funds is not the kind of backdrop he needs to woo mainstream Connecticut Republicans who could float his anticipated primary contest against a current field that has more actual political experience, such as Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, or even Foley’s old running mate now-nemesis Danbury Mayor Mark “BigPoppa” Boughton. Foley, probably recalling past debacles in the state Capitol, where pesky reporters ask too many questions and even fellow Republicans attacked his ethics-reform proposal last year, has picked Waterbury for today’s announcement of his actual candidacy.

But why?

Well, it’s in the numbers. The 2010 election, when he lost to Dan Malloy by 6,404 votes, showed that he could win the ‘burbs, but Foley was thoroughly crushed in the cities. Yet, to win this year (it’s a big if, because of McKinney and Boughton and a likely primary) against Malloy – who though unannounced has never stopped running for re-election from the time he took the oath of office three years ago – Foley, or any Republican for that matter, will have to show relevance in the big cities and channel some public disgust with local Democratic machines.

In 2010, Waterbury was the big city where Foley ran the closest to Malloy, with 9,607 votes to Malloy’s 11,335.

Stamford: Foley 13,779, Malloy 19,416. Hartford: Foley 2,043, Malloy 15,753. Bridgeport: Foley 4,099, Malloy 17,973. New Haven: Foley 3,679, Malloy 22,285.

Last summer, Waterbury’s unemployment rate of 13 percent was about 5 points higher than the state average, so it’s a petri dish where Foley can tout a little supply-side boilerplate for TV cameras before defending his right to take another shot for his first elective office.

But will Foley take public financing, requiring him to solicit not more than $100 each for a total of $250,000? It might be hard for an old take-no-prisoners CEO type like him to ask people for money. And since he spent nearly $11 million of his personal fortune in the losing cause of 2010, why would folks line up to write him checks for another go at Malloy? Did we mention Malloy has not stopped running for re-election?tom1