Tom Foley is making a huge mistake refusing to debate his Republican gubernatorial rivals—plain and simple. Foley says he won’t debate until after the GOP convention at which the party endorses a candidate. Foley has stumbled his way to getting 35 percent support in the last Quinnipiac poll. He is no position to refuse to debate. Just ask Ned Lamont.
Ned Lamont, the Democratic candidate first for US Senate against Joe Lieberman in which his one-trick-pony-antiwar stance sunk him, and secondly as a primary election loser to current Gov. Dannel Malloy was skewered for trying to bail on further debating Malloy because he got whooped in the previous one.
Foley’s spokesman Chris Cooper tells The Hanging Shad, “Tom has that said he will participate in formal, televised debates sponsored by the media and other organizations after the May convention.” The problem is the party faithful are still largely undecided; 36 percent of those surveyed in the Q-Poll has no preference. Cooper added, “Between now and then, he will continue to participate in RTC and community-sponsored candidate forums and debates. He believes the delegates who will choose the candidates at the May convention should be his focus between now and the Convention. Tom has participated in several candidate forums, including a multi-town forum in Canterbury and a candidate forum at in Southbury, among others, and will continue to do so.”
Candidate forums in Grange halls might be nice, but they are no match for televised debates as far as helping voters decide who to support. If Foley sticks to his no-televised-debates-until-the-convention stance, he seriously endangers his “lead.” The Shad understands that in political races, frontrunners can run and hide when they have a huge lead. Foley does not have such a lead and has no such luxury.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is chomping at the bit. The Q-Poll showed him at 11 percent but that also shows him as the alternative to Foley. I imagine Boughton must either want to take on Foley and expose his weaknesses, or exploit Foley’s cowardly position on debates. The same is true to a certain extent for state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney who barely registered in the Q-Poll.
Foley may rethink his position but there is no evidence that he will do something smart in this campaign.
I imagine engaged Republican voters will be watching the debate. And if it’s without Foley, it’s he who will suffer.