Sep 10, 2013
10:26 AMConnecticut Politics
Tom Foley Announces Exploratory Committee, Considers Public Campaign Financing
Jennifer Swift/Connecticut Magazine
Tom Foley announces he has formed an exploratory committee on Sept. 10, 2013.
Tom Foley, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate, didn’t surprise anyone with his announcement Tuesday that he is exploring another run for governor.
But his decision to qualify for a public campaign financing system he vehemently argued against four years ago opened some eyes, as did comments about voter fraud costing him the 2010 race.
Foley, standing before a packed room of reporters and supporters at the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport, stopped short of fully announcing that he will be campaigning to boot Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy out of office, instead opting to form an exploratory committee.
John McKinney, an eight-term state senator from Fairfield and son of former 4th District U.S. Rep. Stewart B. McKinney, is also in the race. State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton have announced exploratory committees. All the candidates have said they would utilize public campaign funding.
Foley said he’ll begin fundraising and circulating his message immediately, then decide if he’ll jump in.
He said numbers touted by Malloy and state Democrats about the state’s success can’t be trusted.
“Dan Malloy is trying to dress-up this pig with Malloy math and fibbery,” he said. “Don’t believe it. Malloy math is when two plus two equals whatever number he wants it to be. But this pig is so ugly it can’t be made pretty.” While campaigning Tuesday with New Haven mayoral candidate Toni Harp, Malloy said he’s “very proud” of his record of creating jobs.
“What he does with numbers is up to him,” Malloy said. “There are five Republicans running; I’m sure they’ll play lots of games with numbers.”
In a statement, Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Jonathan Harris responded to Foley, saying, “Mr. Foley has a long way to go before he can again attempt to buy his way into the Governor’s office, but his doom-and-gloom, the sky-is-falling critique of Connecticut is way off the mark, and his proposed solutions are every bit as fantastical as they were the last time he lost a race for Governor.” Foley said that although he could afford to run his campaign without public financing, the legislature’s changing rules on how much money is given to candidates participating in the system makes it nearly impossible for a candidates to run successfully if they don’t fund the whole effort themselves.
“Why should I write a check to become governor of Connecticut?” he said.
Foley said he would collect donations that permit him to qualify for campaign financing but he hasn’t decided if he’ll enter the race, let alone actually participate in the campaign-finance program.
“I want to show that I can qualify for the public funds just like others, and it may make more sense to take that,” Foley said. “The grant has gotten so large that it would be very hard to use the traditional way of raising money anyway.”
State Democrats were quick to criticize Foley for seemingly flip-flopping on an issue he criticized in his first run for governor.
Democrats pulled comments Foley’s then campaign manager Justin Clark made to the Hartford Courant in June 2010 to point to his hypocrisy, as did reporters asking questions in his press conference.
Foley defended his decision to at least qualify for the funding.
“You pretty much can’t win unless you take public financing or you write a huge check,” he said. “You cannot go out to raise money the traditional way and be competitive, you simply can’t,”
Foley began his speech joking that he wasn’t in Bridgeport to pick up a bag full of 7,000 votes that cost him the election last time around. But when pressed on the issue, he suggested that voter fraud cost him the governor’s office — a claim he hadn’t made in 2010.
“I think if all voter fraud had been eliminated in 2010, I would have been elected,” he said.
Foley, though, declined to say specifically what led to the fraud or who was responsible.