Democrat Dan Malloy had the biggest fundraising day in Connecticut history Tuesday as he collected $6 million in public financing for his campaign for governor.
But it is Republican Tom Foley who is poised to ramp up spending with a resumption of television advertising this week, an effort to close Malloy’s double-digit lead in the latest poll.
Foley, a wealthy businessman who loaned his campaign $3 million before the Aug. 10 primary, reported having only $32,587 cash on hand in his pre-primary disclosure.
“I don’t think anybody now can say Dan Malloy is at a spending disadvantage,” Foley said. “I hope that is taken off the table once and for all. He has plenty of money.”
It is unclear if Foley will personally underwrite his new round of television advertising. He has declined to say how much of his own fortune he is willing to commit to the race.
Foley, who owns a 100-foot yacht, an airplane and a waterfront Greenwich estate, laughed and stammered when asked how much he could afford to spend.
“Well, I, …,” Foley began, then he paused and said, “Could I afford to match him? Yeah.”
Foley was a major fundraiser for George W. Bush, but he only raised $700,000 for his gubernatorial campaign prior to the primary.
As a U.S. Senate candidate last year, before switching races after Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced her retirement, Foley raised $1.6 million, including $539,000 he loaned his own campaign.
He spent $1 million, much of it on advertising that helped jump-start his gubernatorial campaign. He used the balance to repay himself $304,514 and refund $297,775 to contributors.
An open question in political circles has been how deeply into his own resources will he reach as a candidate for governor and how generous will GOP donors be to keep an office held by Republicans since January 1995?
“We’re out raising money,” Foley said. “Now that I’m the nominee of the party, we can raise a lot. It’ll open a lot of sources to that haven’t been available to us.”
Foley said he has tried to engage the Malloy campaign in a discussion of voluntary spending limits.
“We’ve yet to hear from them,” Foley said.
Roy Occhiogrosso, a senior adviser to Malloy, said the campaign is wary of making such a deal, because the Foley campaign is likely to benefit from the get-out-the-vote effort of Linda McMahon’s campaign for U.S. Senate, the richest ever seen in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Republican Party also has a coordinated campaign, something the Democrats have yet to organize.
“Our chief job is to ID as many likely voters as we can,” said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman. “It’s not just calling people and leaving a message. It’s getting someone on the other end of the phone during a survey and getting their temperature on different issues.”
Healy said the party has a half-dozen call centers.
“We work very closely with Linda and Foley, primarily,” Healy said. “We’ve got so far a very good level of integration and cooperation.”
The entire statewide ticket met at Republican State Central headquarters in New Britain on Thursday.
“And I know Linda and Tom have had meetings with their staffs. Tom has been pretty aggressive meeting” with congressional candidates, Healy said.
Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said the Democrats have no similar effort yet.
“At some point, probably after Labor Day, it is a possibility,” she said.
With the $2.75 million he spent on the primary, Malloy will have nearly $9 million to spend, a record for a Democratic gubernatorial nominee, though not a Democratic candidate.
That distinction belongs to Ned Lamont, the Democrat he beat in the primary. Lamont spent more than $9 million, most of it his own money.