The battle for the Republican nomination for governor, which has degenerated into name-calling, accusations and innuendo, heads to Superior Court today. Frontrunner Tom Foley, still reeling from the surfacing of past arrests, is suing the state Elections Enforcement Commission (EEC) to try to stop rival Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele from getting public financing for his campaign.
The EEC granted Fedele some $2.1 million in public financing for his campaign, ruling that when he and party-endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton pooled their donations, Fedele qualified for the money.
Foley and his lawyers are arguing that Fedele and Boughton should not be able to join forces to qualify. They also claim improper conduct on the part of the EEC; that it showed bias toward granting the funding when it should be an independent arbiter.
There are a couple of issues at work here. Foley may be right on the law if it’s strictly applied. The Shad was in the room when the campaign finance reform (public funding) law was crafted. It did not envision “tickets” pooling their qualifying donations, only individual candidates. And even if it did, it probably doesn’t apply to the primary because candidates run on their own in the primary, not as a ticket. One only has to look to 2006 for the implications of that. The “tickets” for the Democratic primary for governor were Dan Malloy/Mary Glassman v. John DeStefano/Scott Slifka. DeStefano beat Malloy but Glassman beat Slika. The result was an awkward pairing of DeStefano/Glassman.
To complicate things even more in the current case, Foley is the party-endorsed candidate for governor while Boughton got the party nod for the second spot. Foley hasn’t chosen a number two.
In the bigger picture, if Foley wins the lawsuit denying Fedele the public money, he runs the risk of looking like a bit of a bully, throwing around his millions while trying to deny Fedele what amounts to a pittance. On the other hand, hard-core Republicans despise public financing on principle and may back Foley for taking it on.
In any event, the whole mess is set for a hearing at 2 pm at Hartford Superior Court.