He’s not an official candidate yet, but Republican Tom Foley on Monday rolled out the first television commercial of the 2014 race for governor. With a big wink to the voters and media back in Connecticut, it airs exclusively – and ever-so-briefly — on cable in New York City.

To make a point about Connecticut’s economic climate under Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Foley ostensibly addresses himself to New Yorkers with a tongue-in-cheek appeal to those who might be ready to flee the Big Apple in advance of a new liberal mayor taking office.

“Hey, New York City,” Foley says as the screen shows an in-your-face New York Post cover that likens Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to a Bolshevik. “With your new mayor, I know many of you are thinking about leaving. Connecticut, with the same progressive policies you’re about to see in your city, may not be first on your mind.”

“But wait a second, Connecticut next year will probably elect a new governor,” Foley says with a smile. “When it does, Connecticut once again will be the place people want to be in the northeast. So enjoy one more year in your city and then come join us in Connecticut under new leadership, headed in a better direction.”

The spot was produced by Doug McAuliffe, who handled advertising for Foley’s campaign in 2010, when he lost to Malloy by 6,404 votes. It is running on Fox News Channel NY and NY1, but it is unlikely to make an impression –- beyond generating stories like this one.

The ad buy was minimal, a few thousand dollars.

“This is definitely not a huge buy,” Foley said, laughing. “This is about as small a buy as you can have and still be a buy.”

Foley said he was trying to have some fun making a serious point about Connecticut’s economic competitiveness under Malloy. The governor always is to quick to note that this state’s tax rate is attractive compared to New York and New Jersey, but Foley said it could be a lot better.

“I was just trying to make the point that while Gov. Malloy and his policies are driving jobs and young people out of the state, here you have a neighboring city where the same thing is about to happen,” Foley said.

It’s been unclear whose playbook, if any, Foley has been using since creating an exploratory committee in September, a step widely seen as prelude to formally announcing his second bid for the GOP nomination.

Foley’s put the political establishment off balance at his exploratory announcement by saying he intended to qualify for public financing, a program Foley vigorously  criticized in 2010. And he accused Malloy of accepting improper payments from Dan Esty, the commissioner of energy and environmental protection, offering no evidence. Esty and Malloy deny Foley’s claim.

The Malloy camp portrayed the New York advertising gambit as more of the same.

“He continues to pursue a bizarre campaign strategy that I don’t think anybody but him understands,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, a Malloy adviser.

Foley said the TV ad was fair game, even for a candidate who supposedly is just exploring a run for governor.

“An exploratory committee gives you an opportunity to assess the amount of support you have and whether the issues and direction you wish to take the state have support,” Foley said. “So this isn’t inconsistent with an exploratory campaign.”

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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