Primary Tuesday: GOP picks candidate to challenge Malloy

Connecticut Republicans will have their say this coming Tuesday, Aug. 12, about who they want to lead the party’s ticket in November, Tom Foley or John McKinney.

Polls open at 6 a.m. for Republican voters in Shelton and across the state (some other towns and districts do have local Democrat primaries) to nominate who will challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy this fall as he seeks a second term.

Foley of Greenwich, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, is considered the favorite in the primary but there has been no public polling released in recent weeks, which McKinney of Fairfield, the state senate minority leader, hopes could lead to an upset in what is considered a winnable race for Connecticut Republicans this fall. will be live on the air Tuesday night with results and analysis of the election and preview what’s ahead for the fall.

State offices and legislature races are also on the primary ballot next week (there will be a Republican contest in the 113th House.District, which covers almost half of Shelton). will be on the air at 7:30 with polls set to close around the state at 8 p.m.

The deadline for registering online or by mail to vote in the primary is Thursday, Aug. 7. If you want to register in person that must be done by Monday, Aug. 11, at noon.

To vote in a party’s primary you must be registered with that party. People who are 17 years old now but will turn 18 by the time of the Nov. 4 election are allowed to vote in the primary if registered.

Foley narrowly lost to Malloy in 2010 and recent polls have either shown Foley in the lead or the race even in a hypothetical rematch. However,  supporters are quick to point to his long experience in the General Assembly and say he’s the better man to move the state forward.

'Home stretch'

In an interview this week with Hersam Acorn Newspapers, McKinney said he was “very excited about where the campaign is as we go into the home stretch.” He was able to point to endorsements from major newspapers such as The Hartford Courant and the New London Day as well as the response he said he was getting from the voters

McKinney has been a regular at train stations the state leading into next week’s primary and appeared Thursday morning at the central Greenwich train station.

“I’m very pleased with the direction that we are headed,” McKinney said. “I think we have a lot of momentum right now and you can see it in the excitement among our supporters.

"We have these endorsements and every day we are getting calls for lawn signs and for people who want to volunteer at our phone banks," McKinney said. "I’m very excited.”

However, Foley appears to be the favored candidate among Republican officials.

Foley easily won the endorsement at the state Republican convention in May and last month received a public endorsement from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is the head of the national Republican Governors Association. An endorsement from the RGA is rather unusual when a primary is being contested, but while at a joint appearance in Greenwich before they attended a fund-raiser for Foley, Christie said he was sure Foley was the right candidate.

“Tom worked hard four years ago and I was really disappointed he came up short,” Christie said. “When he was willing to step forward again and take a run at this race in 2014 I wanted him to know I was with him right from the beginning. I’m urging Republicans to vote for him in the primary on Aug. 12. I’m confident that he’s going to win it and I feel very good about this race on Nov. 4.

"Remember something, he lost by a very small amount four years ago and people of this state have gotten to see Gov. Malloy’s policies up close now," Christie said. "It was only a theory four years ago and now they’ve gotten to live under the highest tax increase in Connecticut’s history and the way jobs have been driven out of this state. We need someone with Tom’s background and experience to do the job.”

The Democrats do not have a statewide primary on Tuesday. However, Malloy is contending with a third-party challenger from his left as former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto is running, which could potentially peel off votes from the Democrats, giving his candidacy a great deal of importance.

Poll numbers

A poll released last week by the non-partisan YouGov group, in partnership with both The New York Times and CBS News, Foley has a 42% to 33% lead over Malloy. The poll had more than enough undecideds in it to swing the election but it did find that independents, a key voting block in what is a relatively blue state, are tilting heavily toward Foley by a 50%-15% margin.

The numbers were a bit surprising, causing some to call them into doubt considering the poll was done through online panels and not the more traditional methods of polling, resulting in questions about whether a representative sample was found. The Connecticut poll was one of several released last week, most of which either showed Republicans outperforming or Democrats under-performing other polls.

There was another poll released on July 31 by Vox Populi Polling that had Malloy clinging to a one-point lead, 35%-34%, over Foley; Pelto polled at 3%. That poll also has bad news for Malloy from independents, who picked Foley by 36%-24%.

“Republicans have a potential pickup opportunity in Connecticut,” Vox Populi Polling pollster Brent Seaborn said in a press release. “With the majority of voters disapproving of Dannel Malloy’s performance as governor and a third party candidate in the race, this seat is prime for Tom Foley’s taking.”

A poll earlier this year from the Quinnipiac Institute found a race between Malloy and Foley essentially to be a dead heat.


Foley will be a guest on this Monday, Aug. 11, at 10 a.m., before the daily news show, “Coffee Break” at 11.

Previous interviews with McKinney, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) and other Connecticut political figures can be heard at the archives.

An invitation has been extended to Malloy for a future appearance.

Ken Borsuk is editor of the Greenwich Post, a Hersam Acorn newspaper.