Tom Foley and Dan Malloy may have few similarities, but the gubernatorial contenders found common ground Saturday in an urgent need to rally potential voters — and an appreciation for the rock group Queen.
With two polls showing the contest close to a dead heat, the major party candidates criss-crossed the state to ensure their respective efforts to get-out-the vote were ready to go.
A few weeks ago, Malloy said, he was “a little nervous” about voter turnout in urban areas.
“In the last two weeks, people have become energized. The Democratic base is extremely energized,” Malloy said outside the Whalley Avenue headquarters in New Haven where campaign workers and supporters had gathered for a final weekend of canvassing.
Before heading out to distribute bags of literature in New Haven, West Haven and Hamden, canvassers sang “We Will Rock You” with Democratic slate-specific lyrics.
Campaign worker Honda Smith, who admitted she composed it in the shower, managed to work in references to U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal, underticket candidates Denise Merrill and Denise Nappier, and two state lawmakers from New Haven, Toni Harp and Toni Walker.
Foley didn’t have any special lyrics, but about 150 supporters greeted him and wife, Leslie with chants of “Go, Tom, Go” as “We Are The Champions” blared in the background during the late afternoon rally at The Marina at American Wharf along the Thames River in Norwich.
“We’re going to turn this blue state into a red state,” Foley told supporters, urging a unified get-out-the-vote effort that would sweep him and a host of new Republican state legislators into office on Tuesday. Coming off campaign stops in Greenwich, Waterbury, New Haven and Madison earlier in the day, Foley still had events in Mystic and East Lyme planned for Saturday night.
With strong support from organized labor, Democrats have a built-in advantage at mobilizing voters — but not an insurmountable one, Foley said.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t beat them,” he said, adding that he, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Linda McMahon, state legislative candidates and the state party have waged the best-coordinated Republican campaign in years. “We have candidates all over who are really working hard. We’re not wasting our resources.”
Joined by former 2nd District Congressman Rob Simmons and secretary of the state candidate Jerry Farrell Jr., Foley told his supporters that potential Republican voters are ready to be mobilized.
“There’s a general sense of people being about where the state is and where the country is,” he said, adding that a poor economy, lack of jobs, and too many career politicians unwilling to do anything about them, have left voters anxious for change.
“With Tom Foley we’re going to have a budget that is common-sense and reasonable,” Simmons said.
Stumping in home district of Democratic state Sen. Edith G. Prague of Columbia, Foley took time to attack one of Prague’s strongest issues, and one Malloy supports as well: securing paid sick leave for part-time workers.
“It’s one of the dumbest policies any legislature could enact,” Foley said, adding it would only worsen an anti-business climate in a state that is virtually “radioactive.”
“The old policies of tax, borrow and spend are going away,” he added, offering his backing to Prague’s GOP challenger, former 2nd Congressional District candidate Sean Sullivan of Ledyard.
Malloy has acknowledged his strong labor support on many occasions, but also made it clear Saturday he’s not taking anything for granted.
“Every person you see, you gotta tell them to vote,” Malloy told his supporters.
The Democratic nominee said his campaign had about 1,000 people on the streets Saturday, part of what he called “a hell of a closing operation.” His final-weekend push also included campaign events with President Obama later Saturday and with former President Bill Clinton on Sunday.
“Just work, work, work. Talk to everybody, don’t miss,” he told supporters in New Haven. “Somebody walking by you while you’re handing stuff out, talk to them. Let’s get this thing done, alright? Thank you.”
The former Stamford mayor said he would be good for New Haven. The state hasn’t had a governor who understood cities in 50 years, he said.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, reinforced the message.
“He (Malloy) knows how to create jobs. He has done it. He didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘I would like to be the governor, or maybe even the Senator,’” she said, a nod to Foley, a first-time candidate who originally ran for U.S. Senate this year. “He knows in his bones. He’s walked in your shoes. He knows what it’s about. So he has got to be the next governor of the state of Connecticut.”
“We turn out New Haven, we win,” Malloy said. “We win, you win.”