UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — Connecticut Republicans are once again backing Tom Foley as their party’s candidate for governor.
The party’s 2010 candidate — who lost by the closest margin in a governor’s race in 50 years — secured more than 57 percent of the delegates at Saturday’s convention at the Mohegan Sun casino.
“Let’s unite today and get this job done,” said Foley, a Greenwich businessman who told his fellow Republicans to “seize this opportunity to save our state from the status quo.”
But a rematch between Foley and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not a sure bet.
(RELATED: Malloy accepts endorsement to run again)
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney both secured more than 15 percent support from GOP delegates, 22 percent and 17 percent, respectively, allowing them to wage a primary election challenge in August.
“This convention is pretty well split as to who they want to be their nominee,” Boughton said. “And so we’re going to go out and make our case to a larger, more broader group of Republicans.”
While Boughton won enough delegates early on in the balloting, it came down to the wire for McKinney, who ultimately gained enough support from delegates who switched their votes.
“We have three good candidates,” McKinney said. “I expect to be the winner after the primary but what I do know is we need to unelect Dan Malloy come November 2014.”
Foley has seen this play before. Four years ago, he faced an aggressive and bruising primary against former Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele, who employed tough television attack ads that many felt hurt Foley in the final election.
“I don’t really like the negative advertising, particularly among people that are members of the same team but whatever happens, happens, and I’m up for that,” Foley said.
But for now, both Boughton and McKinney say their target is Malloy. The three-way primary is set for Aug. 12. There are about 400,000 registered Republicans in Connecticut who are eligible to vote.
In a statement released after Foley’s nomination, Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. both praised Foley and laid into Malloy:
After three-and-a-half years with Dannel Malloy at the wheel, Connecticut desperately needs Tom Foley’s executive leadership experience. … Gov. Malloy, by his own measuring stick, has failed Connecticut. He’s built our budgets by relying on smoke and mirrors, and struggling small businesses continue to fear more taxes and burdensome regulations from a Malloy administration whose hallmark is simply paying big companies to stay in Connecticut rather than creating an environment that makes them want to be here.
Countered Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, in a statement of her own:
“The policies Mr. Foley would put in place are the same old, tired, failed policies of the past. Connecticut can either go backwards with Mr. Foley, or continue making progress with Governor Malloy.
“Tom Foley has lost all credibility as he panders to the NRA, lies about his dangerous road rage attacks, and makes empty budget promises that he can never keep — 3.5 – 2 still does not equal 0, Tom. Mr. Foley has made millions off the backs of hardworking people by slashing payrolls and bankrupting companies.
“Add that record to his stance against Connecticut’s minimum wage increase to $10.10, and you have a recipe for economic disaster for Connecticut’s middle class. Mr. Foley may try to buy another election, but Connecticut Democrats won’t let his millions stand in the way of our progress.”
Republicans also endorsed State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi of Stafford Springs for Lt. Governor. She will also face a three-way primary against former Groton Mayor Heather Somers and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker.
News 8′s Mark Davis reporting