by Jennifer Swift
May 17, 2014
09:27 AM
Connecticut Politics

Republicans Pick Foley to Challenge Malloy, but Foley Will Face Primary in August

Republicans Pick Foley to Challenge Malloy, but Foley Will Face Primary in August

Peter Hvizdak/New Haven Register

Tom Foley gets the Republican nomination for Connecticut governor during the 2014 Connecticut Republican State Convention at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center in Uncasville, Connecticut Friday, May 17, 2014

The road to unseat Dannel Malloy is now forked with at least three paths, as the Republican Party’s nomination process yielded a nominee, and two other candidates vowing to primary.

Tom Foley, who topped the ticket in 2010, secured the party’s nomination again. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Sen. John McKinney both secured enough delegates to qualify for the August 12 primary.

Foley secured 57 percent of the delegates; Boughton received support from 22 percent and McKinney earned support from 17 percent of the delegates at the convention.

Although his win was contested, Foley still remains the Republican front runner to take on Malloy in the fall.

“Connecticut wants for a more promising direction under smarter policies and more competent leadership,” Foley said, accepting his party’s nomination. “In the campaign ahead I want to reach out to every voter in Connecticut to show them that we can turn this around that they don’t have to leave here to get what they want and deserve. We can restore the pride and promise that Connecticut had before Dan Malloy became governor.”

The theme of the convention has been a “Connecticut Comeback.” Party leaders have stressed the need to unite to defeat Malloy. Still some Republicans remain concerned that a three-way race could split the party, despite candidates promising to fight a clean primary race.

McKinney has gone so far as to say he’d sign a pledge that he won’t attack other Republican candidates, and suggested his promise to run a clean campaign may have tipped delegates to his side Saturday.

“I think at the end of the day, we were able to convince people we are going to run a clean campaign and that a primary won’t hurt the party, and that my message will help the party move forward,” McKinney said.

Connecticut Democrats were largely optimistic about the prospect of a three-way primary.

“On one hand, over the course of the primary, voters will see just what these Republican candidates are: pandering politicians who are out of touch with mainstream Connecticut and on the wrong side of the issues. On the other, we’re going to have to bear months and months of empty promises, laughable claims on tax cuts without spending cuts, and more pandering to the NRA,”  Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said in a statement Saturday.

Connecticut Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. said he’s reassured that the candidates will focus on unseating their common enemy and focusing on his economic failures.

“All the candidates have indicated that they will wage their primary races in a positive and constructive manner with the primary focus being on Dan Malloy and our underachieving economy,” he said. ”

Boughton’s chosen running mate, the former Mayor of Groton, Heather Somers, and McKinney’s chosen mate, former U.S. Comptroller, David Walker, both qualified for the primary as lieutenant governor candidates, but lost the party nomination to Penny Bacchiochi. She found herself embroiled in controversy Friday, after Bacchiochi alleged Walker’s camp had started a disparaging “whisper campaign” about her mixed-race family.

With at least three candidates running and participating in the state’s clean elections program, $4.5 million in public money could be injected into the state promoting Republican messaging which the candidates could use to hold Malloy accountable and further promote the Republican’s message, McKinney said.

Thus far Foley is the only gubernatorial candidate that has raised enough cash to qualify for up to $1.25 million in public campaign funds to assist his primary run.
The other candidates may be hard pressed to keep pace, and a lack of funds could derail Boughton and McKinney’s respective bids.

“The potential is probably for a three-way primary, or no primary at all,” State Party Chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. said.

Foley had led Republicans in the polls, and during the convention established an early delegate advantage that he never surrendered.

After the first round of delegate counts, a flurry of activity combusted on the convention floor. McKinney fought to secure more delegates, while Boughton worked to keep all of his in line. Delegates began the usual process of switching. McKinney peeled off just enough to qualify for the primary. 

Speculation swirled around the convention floor as to what contributed to McKinney’s late surge. His campaign worked the convention floor hard for candidates, but some insiders wonder whether Foley pushed him into the primary to build a firewall between the front-runner and his closest challenger Boughton. 

McKinney supporters pointed to his credentials and not convention floor tactics as the reason for his late surge.

“There was no pressure, there was a pressure to get a candidate that can beat Malloy,” said Stamford Republican Party Chair Eva Maldonado, a delegate who switched her vote from Foley to McKinney after the first round of balloting.

The crowded field could play to the advantage of Boughton.

“I’m going to let those folks fight over Fairfield county, and I’m going to spend my time in the rest of the two-thirds of the state earning the votes of Republican voters across Connecticut,” he said.

A fourth candidate, former West Hartford Town Councilman Joe Visconti, hopes a petition can vault him into the August 12 primary. He needs more than 8,000 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot and says he has collected 3,500 thus far.

Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti fell short of earning enough to primary, and has not decided if he’ll petition to get on the ballot.

 

 

Republicans Pick Foley to Challenge Malloy, but Foley Will Face Primary in August

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