Though the political lineup for next year’s hotly contested statewide races remains uncertain, two of the leading GOP contenders pitched their campaigns to the city’s Republican Town Committee this week.
With budget deficits soaring in both Hartford and Washington, jobs in short supply and a growing anger among voters toward incumbents who can’t seem to help, Republicans sense a real opportunity to win both the governor’s race and a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.
“It’s just going to be an exciting year to be a Republican in Connecticut,” said T.J. Barnes, the city’s GOP leader.
Linda McMahon, former chief executive officer of the Stamford-based World Wrestling Federation, said she “couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore” and vowed to use her own money to unseat longtime U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd.
She said Dodd has “lost his way and lost the trust of the voters” through his questionable investments, failed presidential bid and for being “asleep at the switch” in overseeing the financial industry whose collapse led the nation into the recession.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, who is technically still running for Senate, sounded every bit like he's made up his mind to run for governor instead.
Foley told city GOP leaders he "can make more of a difference" as a governor than he can as a U.S. senator.Though he declared he would announce this week whether he'll drop his Senate candidacy in favor of seeking the governorship, Foley left everyone with little doubt he'd already made up his mind.As an outsider, Foley said, he could "come in and shake it up" in Hartford and "knock down the status quo" that has the state teetering on the brink of financial collapse."I can make a difference," Foley said.Foley is one of four contenders vying for the right to represent the GOP in the 2010 Senate race, with McMahon, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and businessman Peter Schiff also in the contest.
If Foley said drops out of the Senate race, he said he's sure that McMahon or Simmons can beat Dodd."He probably can't win unless something changes dramatically in the world," Foley said, because so many people are angry at him, including many Democrats.
At this point, Foley said, he hopes Dodd "will stay in the race" so the GOP can win a crucial Senate seat.Foley said he began to think of switching races after Gov. Jodi Rell announced she would not seek reelection next year.He said if he'd known that six months ago, he would have set his sights on succeeding Rell from day one.Now, he said, he's getting strong support for making the gubernatorial run. The other major contender on the Republican side is Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.A number of Democrats are also eyeing the governor's mansion, including Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, state Sen. Gary LeBeau, former House Speaker James Amann, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, state Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo, Rudy Marconi and former U.S. Senate hopeful Ned Lamont.Electing a Democrat as governor, Foley said, would send Connecticut "off a financial cliff" because the majority party has proven itself unable to control costs or hold government accountable.Former state House Minority Leader Edward Krawiecki, Jr of Bristol said that whoever wins the governor’s race faces a tough challenge because Connecticut’s public sector is “completely out of control.”
“We have a broken government,” Krawiecki said, that keeps increasing expenses mindlessly as it caters to public unions.
Foley said there are too many “entrenched special interests,” including the unions.
“The line needs to be drawn in the sand,” Foley said.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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