Things are getting nasty between Republican gubernatorial candidates Tom Foley and Michael Fedele. The party-endorsed Foley and Lt. Gov. Fedele have both positioned themselves as successful businessmen who will bring a business model to Hartford to solve the state’s fiscal mess. There’s where the similarities end. The back and forth now includes a charge by Fedele that Foley is trying to buy himself the governor’s office.

Here’s how it played out:

Yesterday, the Fedele campaign sent out a “Myths v. Facts: Tom Foley and the Bibb Company” e-mail. In a nutshell, Fedele’s campaign alleges that Foley slashed jobs, forced the Georgia company into bankruptcy and was eventually kicked out as CEO. The Hartford Courant’s Rick Green (a Shad fave) recounted the e-mail: http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2010/06/fedele-gets-ugly-with-foley-on.html

The two sides are arguing over the financing of their respective campaigns. Fedele is participating in the Citizens’ Elections Program (public financing) while Foley is self-financing.

Foley campaign manager Justin Clark told the Courant’s Chris Keating, “As a Republican, I don’t mind a primary, but I do mind that the lieutenant governor is trying to use taxpayers’ dollars to finance his campaign. He is asking people for contributions so he can qualify to use taxpayers’ money for advertising, balloons, bumper stickers, and high priced consultants against a fellow Republican.”  Clark added, “Most Republicans don’t understand how a candidate for governor whose most important leadership challenge will be reducing government spending can start off by asking taxpayers to pay up to $2.5 million for his primary campaign. Instead, he should be asking to have the ‘Citizens Election Program’ repealed.”
The affable Fedele tried to bring the argument back to Foley’s dealings with Bibb and did so with wording that belies his “nice guy” image. “Tom Foley made millions of dollars by firing 750 workers and driving a company in Georgia into bankruptcy—and that’s the millions he’s using to fund his campaign. He’s financing his campaign on the backs of people he put out of work—he’s the last person who should be talking about how campaigns are financed. Ambassador Foley thinks only the super wealthy should be able to run for office. He bought an ambassadorship, but I don’t think the people of Connecticut will let him buy the governor’s office.” [The Shad’s emphasis]. Such accusations are commonplace in campaigns—especially this year—but rarely said on the record about a member of the same party.

This race is turning into a smackdown that would make Linda McMahon proud. Foley is a former ambassador to Ireland. Maybe he learned this “Irish Whip to the ropes” while there (wrestling references are not limited to McMahon’s race). And that sound you hear is GOP state party chair Chris Healy on the cell phone trying to convince anyone who will listen that McMahon is qualified to be a US Senator—anything to get the focus off the “F-Boys” slap fight for governor.