Chris Healy, the outspoken and quotable Republican state chairman, intends to inform the GOP State Central Committee tonight he will not stand for re-election when his term expires June 28.
“It’s the greatest job anyone could have, and I’ve been blessed to be given that chance,” Healy said today. “It’s time to let new leadership come in.”
William Aniskovich, a former state senator, is among those trying to succeed Healy in leading a party that is the perennial Number 2 in blue Connecticut, where no Republican holds any statewide or congressional office.
Healy, 53, is a former newspaper reporter, congressional aide and lobbyist who took over as chairman on January 30, 2007 at the request of then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell. He remained as chair even as his relationship with Rell cooled.
In four years, Healy introduced the GOP to social media, opened a new headquarters with a phone-banking system and presided over the municipal victories and statewide defeats, including losing an open Senate seat in 2010 as the GOP was making gains nationally.
Through it all, Healy seldom was at a loss for words or ideas. It was Healy who played a key role in sidetracking the political career last year of Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who seemed on track to be elected attorney general.
At Healy’s instigation, the GOP pressed the Connecticut Supreme Court to rule on Bysiewicz’s qualifications under state law, forcing her to quit her campaign. But the beneficiary was Democrat George Jepsen, not the GOP.
A similar storyline surrounded the fall of Sen. Chris Dodd. Healy laid siege in a public-relations sense to the senior senator, who ultimately did not seek re-election last year. Again, the beneficiary was another Democrat, Richard Blumenthal.
In recent weeks, Healy’s criticism of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget drew return fire from the Connecticut Democratic Party.
When Healy was rumored to be in the race for re-election, the Democrats rejoiced.
“We pray every day that Chris Healy will continue as the chief spokesman and strategist for the CT GOP,” the Democrats said in a statement. “With his track record of losing elections and saying bizarre things, who could be better for us?”
Healy, who says he always had a cordial, professional relationship with Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DeNardo, said he did not mind the attacks.
“It’s the highest form of compliment, drawing enemy fire,” Healy said. “I’ve always enjoyed the battle of ideas and passion.”
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior adviser, praised Healy’s passion and drive.
“I respect that,” Occhiogrosso said. “One of Healy’s problems is his really conservative ideology. It is not a brand of politics that really sells in Connecticut. Ultimately, all of us are judged on wins and losses.”
Healy, who has been a full-time state chairman, will be joining the Summit Financial Group, a Texas-based financial planning and benefits firm with offices in Simsbury. He will focus on business development.