Shays says he won’t run for governor

The signs were intriguing. He dropped hints. He showed up for the opening day of the General Assembly. He put a deposit on a condo in Bridgeport. But Chris Shays said today today he is not running for governor.

Shays, the Republican congressman who moved to Maryland after losing his 4th District seat in 2008, told the Capitol Report that running for governor is something he cannot afford.

“I would love to be part of the debate. I believe I would win,” Shays said. “And I would dearly love to serve and help get our state out of the huge mess it is in. But Betsi and I simply can’t make it work financially. After quitting my job to run for governor and serving four years in office we would be nearly bankrupt, the very problem I would be helping to get the state out of.”

He could not be reached for comment.

His confidence notwithstanding, Shays would have faced several obstacles. His old organization is scattered, with key aides already signing on with other campaigns. The fundraising base he enjoyed as a congressional incumbent would not necessarily be available to him as a gubernatorial challenger.

Shays also has a relationship with the GOP that has been Weickeresque at times. His warm remarks about Barack Obama in the closing weeks of the campaign annoyed some Republicans, especially since Shays was the titular head of John McCain’s campaign in Connecticut.

Still, in a potentially crowded Republican primary field, someone with high name recognition and a flair for generating headlines could have been a factor.