Foley Rolls the Dice with McCarthy-like Interview on Face the State; Boughton, Dems Pounce

Gov. Malloy is unethical and possibly a crook; Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s campaignanator, is definitely a crook; and Andrew McDonald, one of the most respected individuals in state government and now a judge Supreme Court, is some combination of crook and influence peddler. That is what Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley alleged in his interview Sunday with Face the State’s incomparable Dennis House that smacked of McCarthyism.

Foley, the 2010 Republican nominee made a head-scratching, soft entry in the race last week. His latest salvo came in the House interview where he unleashed his “I have the proof but I am not going to show it to you” allegations against Malloy and his peeps. It may be a troubling foreshadowing of the campaign to come.

The strange thing is there are plenty of legitimate issues on which Foley can attack Malloy. The economy is still sluggish, the unemployment rate is still too high, the state’s borrowing is to some, out of control, keno remains a mystery but a crucial part of balancing the budget, etc. I personally believe Malloy is doing a great job and the best he can on all economic fronts but Foley could still make these issues a central part of taking on the governor. Instead, Foley is taking the “these guys are corrupt” route that I don’t think anyone will buy.

If Foley wanted to raise eyebrows with his unimpressive press conference last Tuesday (primary election day, by the way), he succeed. He announced he was forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee. The Shad has had some pretty extensive interaction with political players and reporters of late and they all think Foley’s announcement was weird at best and potentially damaging to his chances at worst—especially if it is an indication of his campaign to come.

Foley proclaimed he would seek to qualify for public financing but may not use it. This is the same guy who excoriated Republican rival Mike Fedele in 2010 for taking public financing and using “taxpayers’ money to run [for governor].” On “Face the State” he claimed the public financing rules had changed so he would at least qualify. The rules didn’t change the fact that the public financing system is still taxpayers’ money—only more of it. One would think Foley would be even more opposed to it based on his 2010 argument.

Throw in the fact that Foley held his news conference in a nondescript room in the richest part (Black Rock) of the poorest city (Bridgeport) in the state and you’re shaking your head. And for some reason, he spoke in front of a window that caused havoc for the TV cameramen trying to light him. The result was Foley looking like he was in an episode of “The Following.”

Fellow exploring Republican candidate Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton smartly pounced on all of this—the only Republican contender to do so. He first damned Foley with faint praise saying, “I welcome the Ambassador to the field of potential candidates,” said Boughton who ran with Foley on the Republican ticket in 2010. “The Republican Party will be best served when our voters are able to choose from multiple candidates of diverse backgrounds and experience…My exploratory committee for Governor will continue to highlight my background as a blue-collar Republican and experience as Mayor of one of Connecticut’s most successful municipalities.” The new release then cited several media reports on the strength of the economy in Danbury.

Boughton then got real—and tough—with a “Foley v. Foley” news release and effectively demonstrated Foley’s flip-flop if not outright hypocrisy on public financing. Boughton is already showing he could be the most effective alternative to Foley. (For what it’s worth, Boughton should lose the “Explore” in his logo. We know he has an exploratory committee.)

State Democrats started slapping Foley around right away. Their response was tough and voluminous. The issued not one, not two, not even three, but four news releases on Sept. 10 about Foley. It’s not that they don’t have the material, they do:

But four news releases in a single day shows an extremely worried party. Do one, include all the ammo, and be done with it for a while. Otherwise you appear obsessed with Foley.

In the meantime, I don’t know who is advising Foley but he’d be better off focusing on economic issues and not Malloy’s “possible,” “maybe, “that’s what I’ve been told,” “everyone knows it” ethical issues.