“Who is Joe Visconti?”
More people in Connecticut are beginning to ask that question, with Visconti getting 9% of the vote for governor in the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
His presence could be factor in who wins the race, although the Q-Poll indicates his supporters would split just about evenly if they had to vote for either Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy or Republican challenger Tom Foley.
But tell that to strong Foley supporters — because many of them are convinced Visconti could play the role of “spoiler” and get enough of the anti-Malloy vote to cost Foley the election.
And Malloy has been saying a lot of nice things about Visconti lately — a clear indication he and his campaign advisors agree with the outlook of those strong Foley supporters.
At a Thursday night debate that Foley decided to skip, Malloy continued to treat Visconti with an unusual amount of respect and reverence for what many political pundits might consider a fringe candidate.
Sought the Republican nomination
Visconti is a Republican who sought the GOP gubernatorial nomination earlier this year, but failed to get enough delegate support at the party convention to automatically qualify for a primary.
He then decided to go the independent route — securing 7,500 signatures from registered voters to qualify as a petitioning candidate. That’s not easy (just ask liberal Jonathan Pelto, a former Democratic state legislator who tried and failed this year), but Visconti showed he had the organizational skills and persistence to clear that hurdle.
Visconti appears to be benefiting from voters’ disgust in both of the two major party candidates. And the unfavorability of Malloy and Foley isn’t going to get any better between now and Election Day, with their campaigns and supportive outside groups running non-stop negative ads about the other candidate.
He has raised little money for his campaign, so don’t expect to see Visconti for Governor TV ads blanketing the airwaves.
Political, personal background
Visconti’s experience in elective office consists of one term on the West Hartford Town Council, serving from 2007-09. He was involved in some local issues in West Hartford, being a founding member of the Save The Center — West Hartford neighborhood organization.
He was the Republican candidate for Congress in the First District in 2008 (that’s a safe Democratic seat so he had no chance).
He is most closely associated with gun rights, and identifies himself as a “Tea Party/Gun Rights Activist” on his campaign website. Some of those signatures he secured to get on the ballot as an independent candidate were collected outside gun shops.
Visconti lives in West Hartford and has three children, ages 26 to 20. He graduated from the University of Hartford in 1978.
When it comes to work, Visconti has spent more than 40 years in the building trade, according to his campaign website. He began his career in the family’s commercial construction service business, working on everything from small renovations to multi-million dollar, multi-year, and multi-location projects.
He has dealt with issues such as engineering, building codes, zoning regulations, inland wetlands regulations, licensing, permitting, worker’s compensation, and labor relations; interacted with various government agencies; and been responsible for managing 25 employees.
Visconti holds what would be considered strongly conservative positions.
He wants to phase out the state sales tax over seven years, claiming this would increase business activity and lead to more jobs. He supports eliminating the state estate tax and enacting a phase-in reduction of the state gasoline tax.
To lower state spending, he would pursue a hiring freeze, a spending freeze, and opt out of many non-essential federal programs, according to his website.
He says Connecticut needs “a governor who will work with business leaders, public unions, both political parties, and the state legislature to develop a blueprint for a multi-year plan to rebuild our economy on solid ground.”
He opposes the Common Core Standards for education, and would repeal gun restrictions passed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (he wants to focus on mental health issues).
Learn more about him at www.viscontiforgovernor.com.