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OP-ED | Clear Summer Sailing for Foley

by | Jul 4, 2014 8:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

Summer is finally here, and suddenly the political waters are calm and smooth for Tom Foley. He’s been having a great couple of weeks, despite — or perhaps because of —  having done next to nothing.

It didn’t start out this way. The beginning of Foley’s campaign was a comedy of unforced errors in which he threw bizarre accusations at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy without bothering to gather evidence for any of them. The state’s political press ground him into a fine powder for it, and deservedly so. Worse, he did it again in January; accusing two brothers who received state economic aid of being related to a Democratic lobbyist. It turned out this wasn’t true, and Foley, instead of looking like a sober, steady leader who could return economic order to the state, looked more like an impulsive and desperate political novice.

But since then Foley’s gotten smart, and, more importantly, he’s gotten quiet. His attacks against Malloy, while constant, stick to dry economic realities and vague, pro-business, GOP boilerplate instead of wild accusations of corruption. It’s as if someone reminded him that all he had to do to win was keep his head down and not screw things up, and he actually listened.

It’s paying off. After a few hitches, he eventually qualified for his share of public campaign financing, which nicely obscures the fact that he could buy and sell most of us with his personal fortune. He also found some room to breathe when his strongest Republican opponent, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, dropped out and endorsed him, leaving only the hapless John McKinney officially in the race.

Better still, Jonathan Pelto picked up enough signatures to get his third-party candidacy onto the November ballot — encouraged in part by Republicans who hope Pelto will draw away enough Democratic votes to let Foley sneak by. Pelto, who has made his loathing of Gov. Malloy clear in blog post after excruciatingly long blog post, likely will have no trouble playing the role of the spoiler right up till the bitter end. Captain Ahab must chase his whale, after all.

Foley’s good luck didn’t stop there. Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell popped out of retirement to shake a finger at Malloy. The popular Rell finally pushed back against what Malloy and other Democrats have been saying for years, that she’s responsible for the huge deficits the state faced in 2011, shifting blame instead to the Democratic legislature. There’s something to this, though it then becomes a little trickier to blame Malloy for the deficits looming in the next few years. Still, a revitalized and combative Rell would be a huge asset for the Republican ticket if she actually decided to get into the fray.

Speaking of Rell, her lieutenant governor, Michael Fedele, endorsed Foley this week. This is a big deal because Fedele was Foley’s strongest challenger during the close, bitter 2010 primary. Amazingly, Republicans are managing to pull their various factions into something resembling a real political party.

All of this leaves Foley in great shape as the summer wears on. If McKinney stays in the race Foley will beat him handily, giving him a win and positive press. On the other side, Malloy isn’t getting a lot of breaks; the fight over Common Core is damaging him, the economy remains sluggish, and the mood of the electorate remains as grumpy as ever.

There are some clouds ahead. Pelto has found nothing in the way of union support, which is something he seems to have been counting on. The SEIU and the AFL-CIO have endorsed Malloy-Wyman, and it’s unlikely Pelto will pick up any other unions. Democrats may not be able to convince Pelto to drop out, but they may be able to isolate him enough that he has next to no impact on the race.

Also, the Tom Foley that threw around baseless allegations without a shred of proof is still out there. He could still manage to shoot himself in the foot at a time when people are actually paying attention, and force people to think twice about him.

Lastly, Foley underestimates Dan Malloy at his peril. The governor may be down, but he is not the sort of person to back out on a fight. Malloy won last time in part by painting Foley as rich and out-of-touch; Republicans should be ready for a blizzard of similar ads in the fall. Foley could quickly find himself playing Mitt Romney to Malloy’s Obama.

But right now, this is Foley’s race to lose. Full speed ahead.

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

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(10) Archived Comments

posted by: Commuter | July 4, 2014  10:36am

The race is Foley’s to lose?

Based on your otherwise pretty good snapshot, it would appear Foley’s got a bit of a problem in that as good as it has gotten for him has been to stay off the airwaves, while some things over which he has no control go the wrong way for Malloy.

Endorsements from B-listers you’ve already beaten don’t mean anything. If you want to get a sense of where the GOP is really at, go listen to Boughton’s telling public remarks when he withdrew from the race.

Or listen to - what passes for a venerable operative in the state GOP - Chris Healy, who has complained to no avail for months that the GOP needs to pull itself together, and has now resorted to helping get Pelto on the ballot in a degrading, cynical attempt to weaken Malloy.

Foley is doing nothing more than hoping that people will still be personally miserable enough that they will vote for “Plan B” at the polls in November. You need look no further than his editorial this week in the New Haven Register to see that.

It’s a loser’s strategy.

posted by: SocialButterfly | July 4, 2014  1:39pm

Commuter:  Your biased appraisal “is taken with a grain of salt.”

posted by: Jesterr72 | July 4, 2014  1:55pm

Foley v Malloy is a race between Dumb and Dumber.  Both guys are disastrous for the state. Connecticut is going to really lose either way.  It’s such a shame - this used to be a thriving state with big industries and bright future.  The Democrats are sucking it dry and the Republicans don’t inspire confidence.  Taxes will continue to skyrocket as more people go on entitlements. Time to leave is getting closer.

posted by: shinningstars122 | July 4, 2014  1:59pm


Nice post Commuter. I mean if you want even more “substance” from Tom Foley just simply go to his own web site.

There is nothing there. Not one piece on policy…nada.

I mean he is running on what other people are saying in the video on the site.

Clearly a deep and serious political thinker folks.

Or as Susan said he is FINALLY listening to his campaign manager and not doing interviews and actually talking policy.

Hey that worked wonders for Mitt Romney.

I mean seriously if he is going to depend on a “feisty” Jodi Rell to set the record straight on the CT GOP?

Please her record speaks for its self.

She had her time in the sun and she blew it.

Plus all we have to do is be patient…Foley will surely give us another unsubstantiated rant way before the August primary.

It i simply in his nature.

posted by: SocialButterfly | July 5, 2014  7:04pm

shinningstars122: You certainly generate a lot of hate against Foley. Your hate campaign will not generate any votes for Malloy as he already
lost his voting power for Election Day.

posted by: shinningstars122 | July 7, 2014  10:30pm


@QuestionMark Hate?!? I guess a hallow candiate who is actually not running on any issues at all is the type of ” change” you feel our state needs?

Sorry to disappoint you but we all need to demand more form our public servants, no matter which party they are from or how rich they are.

The word you might consider using instead of ” hate” is ” accountability”.

Is it too much to ask that you all should hold Foley to the same standard as you do Malloy?

It would be beneficial to all the voters of our state if you did…but honestly you will never will do that.

posted by: art vandelay | July 10, 2014  6:15am

art vandelay

Democrats have nothing to fear, Malloy will win come November. Denise Merrill can always get a court order to keep the polls open an extra hour.  They can also hire well stocked stretch limos to get voters to the polls.  They did it before and they can do it again. To Democrats the ends justify the means.

posted by: Nutmeg87 | July 10, 2014  8:46am

Misery loves company…  Just read these posts…

If there were a Misery Index - CT would top that list…  Whether Ct votes Malloy OUT or residents just finally take action to their words and flee CT and its next Tax Increase…

Just hope there’s enough gas in the tank to make it to an out-of-state gas station…  Isnt he raising the gasoline tax also >$.60 / gal ...

posted by: SocialButterfly | July 10, 2014  11:49am

Connecticut is in such bad shape that even Pres. Obama is not coming here but is fundraising for the Democratic Party out West instead, as an excuse for not going to the Mexican border to assess the illegal alien crisis—as he dislikes photo-ops (that do not pay-off.)
there is no money for the Democratic Party gained from the mass of aliens that have taken over our Texas military bases. It’s no wonder that the national Quinnipiac poll rates Obama as the worst U. S. president since World War II. Our key Connecticut supporter of Obama, Gov. Malloy, should be careful about the company he keeps

posted by: Commuter | July 12, 2014  11:33pm

@ QuestionMark - why have you repeatedly changed screen names? Just curious.

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