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OP-ED | What We Learned from Primary 2014

by | Aug 15, 2014 9:00am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Analysis, Election 2014, Opinion

The primary is over, and the main event has begun at last! Unfortunately, it’s a rerun from 2010: Tom Foley will be facing Dan Malloy during a year where the economy is lousy and everyone’s miserable.

But before we bid the primary goodbye, let’s take a look at some of what we learned:

Tom Foley is resilient — We sort of knew this one already, but it bears repeating. Former Ambassador Thomas C. Foley has suffered through a series of self-inflicted wounds that would have doomed many other candidates, from the wild, unsubstantiated accusations he threw at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the start of his campaign to the botched photo op outside a closing factory in Sprague a few weeks ago. Foley has looked lost in debates, his Republican opponent, John McKinney, savaged him in a series of ads. He lost the endorsement of nearly every major paper, and as the primary drew nearer, it seemed like Republicans might be wavering on him.

He won convincingly. The map of the primary for governor shows Foley winning all over the state by huge margins, losing only in McKinney’s own backyard. McKinney couldn’t even close the gap, much less win, anywhere except places near to his state senate district and a stretch along the coast. Foley even won Sprague.

But I have to wonder, is this resilience or is this luck? Foley hasn’t really had to take a clear position on gun rights, but McKinney, who represents Newtown, voted for the gun control bill. This infuriated gun rights groups. But, truth be told, the moderate McKinney has been on the outs with the party base for a long time. McKinney ran the better campaign, had better knowledge of policy, and had a better shot of grabbing Democrats disenchanted with Malloy in the fall. But McKinney’s party hated him, so Foley bumbled into the winner’s circle.

It may not matter whether it’s resilience, luck, or something else. Foley’s still standing.

Bacchiochi lost at the convention — Yes, State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Stafford, won the endorsement of the Republican convention. But she also went after former U.S. Comptroller David Walker with a racism charge for which she later admitted she had no evidence. Things got worse in July when a campaign worker accused former Groton Mayor Heather Bond Somers of displaying “white privilege,” which is a very mild way of saying she’s clueless about race, but that turned already sensitive white Republicans off of her campaign.

The map of the lieutenant governor’s race is interesting — a lot of it is based on geography. Bacchiochi won in the north, Somers in the southeast, and Walker in parts of Fairfield County. But Walker was also able to win in parts of Hartford County that Bacchiochi should have picked up, like Windsor and East Granby, and Somers did pretty well in Fairfield County as well. Somers and Walker should have been regional candidates. But Bacchiochi’s troubles meant Republicans actually gave her opponents a look, and so what should have been an easy run to victory turned into a tight three-way scramble.

Bacchiochi wasn’t helped by a campaign that seemed disorganized and slow to respond to quick hits from Somers, but in the end she lost this one by triggering Republican twitchiness about race.

Voters aren’t interested in taking chances — Primary night left us with a slate of relatively safe choices. Foley’s a known quantity, and Republicans are comfortable with him. Somers is something of a question mark, but Republicans seemed a little worried Bacchiochi might blow up in their faces. Most incumbents won their races, with two exceptions in Bridgeport. One of those was freshman state Rep. Christina Ayala, whose legal problems ranged from a hit-and-run to a later-dropped charge of domestic violence.

It’s going to be a nasty fall — It only took one day for the Malloy campaign to release their first anti-Foley ad, bashing him for insulting and blaming workers and local officials for a plant closing Sprague. It’s very similar to an ad the McKinney campaign cut during the primary. On Thursday, the Malloy campaign’s Twitter account released an image of Foley sitting in with balcony hecklers Waldorf and Statler from “The Muppet Show,” with the caption: “It’s easy to criticize from the cheap seats — just ask these guys.” Zing?

Democrats are in a funk, and a righteous fury aimed at Foley might actually get some of them to the polls in November, so get ready for an onslaught. If this primary has taught us anything, it’s that campaigns are ready to do whatever it takes to win.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(5) Archived Comments

posted by: DanofiveO | August 15, 2014  11:06am

Hi Susan,
Being a former Democrat I can’t believe I am now a republican and ready to phone, write letters to the disgustingly liberal biased media outlets,door knock and march in protest of the democratic establishments stranglehold on our economy. The total disregard of Democrats top to bottom to acknowledge their failures, the lying, restrictions on our freedoms and privacy I don’t think one could write a script as twisted as this one. People are living in tent cities they are lined up at food banks they are fleeing our state and make no mistake about it it’s the democratic policies driving us into the ditch. The more we see Malloy stand up touting his accomplishments that just don’t line up with reality the more incensed the disenfranchised citizens grow, the sprague foley event spun by liberal media outlets as a bumble we see as a victory and an outing that the media is in collusion and a big part of why so many are suffering. Endorsements of republican candidates by the state papers are a large road sign for those with out jobs to vote for the other guy. As far as the gun issue as a driver it is just a lot of salt on the open and fester wounds Malloy foisted on working people, just one more reason but hardly the most important one. The economy, jobs and leaving a world a better place for our kids not some freedom sucking democratic ripoff scheme that treats illegal foreign nationals to the spoils of our hard labor and better than it treats our own citizens! That draws attention to the recent police shooting by of a young black man but never utters a word about the failed democratic policies killing black youth in Chicago! Foley and Somers will do what must be done, to chop down government to a size we can afford, to support small businesses grow and create jobs again. Democrats are for exploiting racial divisions, trying to fuel a war on Women where none exists, restricting freedoms and liberties, drone attacks, NSA spying, militarization of our law enforcement and letting millions upon millions flood out country illegally stripping the middle class jobs overburdening and bankrupting our local budgets. So democrats and the media can try to draw our attention elsewhere and in doing so they embolden the coming revolt against them in November.

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 15, 2014  6:28pm


Susan when you have lemons the GOP makes lemonade.

Foley basically presented no platform and the GOP electorate simply feels that is the path to go.

I have to give McKinney credit for actually thinking about what he might actually do.

If Republicans and Independents in our state think that a knee jerk reaction will set our state back on the right check Foley is clearly the worst choice we could make.

He will only perpetuate economic policies that we have all witnessed for the last forty years…greater wage inequality and the strengthen of corporatism throughout all of our lives.

The middle class is on the ropes and both parties do not have a clue that Americans have had a enough.

Clearly @Danofive desperate diatribe is not reflective of voters in our state.

This all started with Ronald Reagan and this is his legacy…the creation of trickle down poverty for the working class.

At least Malloy knows the ship is sinking.

To simply reduce the debate to partisan talking point will not suffice and the GOP ticket will run face first into this as we move forward.

Foley will be chewed up and spit out by Main street.

You wait and see @Danofive0 Foley is the Wo-Fat of Fairfield county.

posted by: Fisherman | August 15, 2014  10:03pm

GOOD article by Susan; but GREAT comment by Danfive0.

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 17, 2014  11:21am


Hey @Danofive0 and @Fisherman one number for you both…2042!

posted by: GuilfordResident | August 18, 2014  8:10am

It’s all about McKinney’s support of SB1160 is why Foley, w/ all his gaffs, stomped McKinney. Civil Liberties still matter to a lot of voters.

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