With less than two weeks to do before Election Day, Gov. M. Jodi Rell entered the campaign fray for the first time this week, appearing in a new radio spot for Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley.

The lame-duck governor, who is on pace to hand off a $3.26 billion deficit for the next fiscal year to her successor, said in the 60-second spot that “Connecticut needs a governor who is committed to reducing spending, working across party lines and bring jobs to our state.”

The ad, which opens with an announcer  identifying Foley as a political outsider and repeating his pledge to “close that deficit without tax hikes,” then yields to Rell, whom Foley repeatedly has criticized during the campaign for not cutting enough spending, and for failing to block more than $900 million in tax hikes approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2009.

“Tom’s experience and his no-nonsense style will serve Connecticut well at a very important time,” Rell added in the commercial. A spokesman for her office declined to comment on why the governor, also a Republican, chose to speak out in the race now with little time left.

Democratic nominee Dan Malloy’s campaign said the Rell commercial came as no surprise.

“Tom was a big supporter of (Rell’s predecessor) John Rowland and remains close to many political insiders in Hartford,” Malloy campaign manager Dan Kelly said. “He was also a major fundraiser for George W. Bush and was even rewarded with an ambassadorship. It’s pretty ironic that he calls himself an ‘outsider.’”

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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