Where Do They Stand for 2014?

What are the governor’s chances? What about Tom Foley? John McKinney? Larry Cafero? Mark Boughton? Linda McMahon? Mike Fedele? Now that it’s all over but the national scandals for 2012, people are handicapping the 2014 Connecticut gubernatorial race. Never wanting to be left out, here are some thoughts about the race which is to year away.

Gov. Dannel Malloy. Of course, as the incumbent, the Democratic governor is in the driver’s seat. He has had some dismal approval ratings in the past two years after pushing through the largest tax increase in history—a move that was both courageous and necessary to close a $3.3 billion budget deficit. Malloy fully expected the negative reaction and has successfully advanced his agenda anyway.

Any suggestion that Malloy would be vulnerable in a Democratic primary is so absurd it doesn’t deserve a response. But because such a suggestion was picked up by other websites, I guess it needs one. No Democrat would run against him and if one did they’d be crushed. The suggestion was floated as just another attack by an obsessed blogger who has marginalized himself to the point of being irrelevant.

Malloy’s poll numbers are actually improving. Republicans made the election a referendum on Malloy even though he wasn’t on any ballot. The Democrats and Malloy won.

The two things that could lead to a Malloy defeat in the general election are: 1) The state budget deficit—which could hit $300 million—especially if he has to raise taxes and/or fees to cover it. He says he won’t. That could lead to cut in state services which would also not endear him to the electorate either.  2) He has completely transparent national ambitions. When The Hanging Shad first raised the issue back in Sept. of 2011, the governor was coy about it. Now he is a globe-trotting, national cable TV-appearing, would-be rising star in the national Democratic Party. (“Morning Joe” Scarborough and his crew love him.) Voters tend to shy away from supporting someone who they suspect might not finish out the term, skipping town for a cabinet post or even a national vice presidential run. The Republican nominee would obviously demand that Malloy pledge to serve out his term. But for now, Malloy is clearly the favorite.

Republican Tom Foley. Foley lost the 2010 election to Malloy only after the election follies of then-Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and the city of Bridgeport (not enough ballots, a judge extending polling hours and the bizarre use of the reverse 911 system to let people know they could still vote). Even against all that, he almost won.

When he runs, either in the primary or if gets the nomination, he will clearly be painted as another rich businessman trying buy a top government position, ala Mitt Romney and (gulp) Linda McMahon. He avoided that characterization last time around although Romney’s Bain Capital is Foley’s NTC Group. Malloy exploited Foley’s role in closing the Bibb Company (remember those ads?). He was the US Ambassador to Ireland which amounts to being able to tip a pint.

Foley’s promise in the 2010 campaign to not raise taxes despite the enormous budget deficit did him in. He either didn’t understand the ramifications of keeping such a pledge or he would simply reverse course once he was elected, kind of like Lowell “throwing gasoline on a fire” Weicker did with the state income tax. No tax increases in 2010 would have destroyed state government as we know it assuming he planned to balance the budget. People are smarter. But as of now, the Republican nomination is his for the taking.

State Rep. Larry Cafero. Holding press conferences to criticize the current governor does qualify one be the governor. I’m not sure why Cafero and a few others think he would ever have a chance. No one knows him outside of the state legislature or Norwalk. And many of those in the former see him as a bloviating gasbag whose shrill speeches on the House floor are reason to leave the chamber when he rises to speak.

State Sen. John McKinney. The respected, thoughtful and conservative Republican leader in the Senate would make a good running mate for Foley. He’s likeable and forthright. However, The Shad thinks McKinney missed his chance when he didn’t challenge US Rep. Jim Himes when Himes was a freshman. That seat was famously held by Stewart McKinney, John’s father.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Boughton is a friendly, super-popular mayor who ran for lt. governor with Foley in 2010. That got him some statewide name recognition but probably not enough. He has some baggage from his involvement with ICE and the crackdown on illegal immigrants in Danbury (although it probably helps him in a primary). I spent election night with him at the studios of NBC Connecticut. I’d hang with him anytime but I’m not sure I’d vote for him.

Linda McMahon. No mas, I am begging, no mas!

Former Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele. He is interested but there is no indication he’d do any better in a primary than he did in 2010 when he lost in the primary.

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