Tom Foley is raising expectations about delegate support and financial resources in the run up to this weekend’s Republican convention, saying a first-ballot endorsement for governor and his qualifying for public financing are within reach.
Foley, who had raised fewer than half the small-dollar contributions necessary to qualify for public financing as of the April report, challenged the other GOP candidates to match him in voluntarily releasing updated campaign finance reports on Thursday.
“It’s an important factor in the decisions the delegates will make,” Foley said.
Two of Foley’s four rivals for the GOP nomination, Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney of Fairfield and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, said the challenge that Foley first made in a letter to delegates was grandstanding.
“I certainly am not going to let Tom Foley dictate what my campaign does and doesn’t do. I think we’re still waiting for him to release his tax returns,” said Boughton, the only candidate who has released his returns.
The GOP field for governor narrowed to five Friday after Martha Dean, a favorite of gun owners, dropped out after the release of a Quinnipiac University poll that showed her with support from only five percent of Republican voters. Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and Joe Visconti of West Hartford remain in the race.
Making money an issue is an unexpected gambit for Foley. His personal wealth was an issue in 2010, when he largely self-financed his campaign. He has pledged to qualify for the state’s voluntary public financing program this year – but not necessarily accept it.
Foley tied Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the Democratic incumbent, in a Quinnipiac poll last week, as he did in a previous survey in March. Despite much lower name-recognition than Foley, McKinney and Boughton did nearly as well, trailing the governor by just four and five percentage points, respectively.
Foley is trying to make the case that not just any Republican can compete with the first-term Democratic incumbent.
“You want to endorse the candidate who does have the money to win,” Foley said.
Malloy, who is the first governor elected under the state’s public financing program, is committed to using the program again in 2014, when the state will provide at least $1.25 million for a primary and $6 million for the general election.
Foley told delegates by letter they should press for information on every candidate’s ability to financially compete with Malloy.
“One of the factors that will be critical to any candidate winning is whether or not they have sufficient financing,” Foley wrote. “Those candidates who will be relying on public financing will have to qualify for that financing in order to win. Many will not have qualified by the convention, so understanding whether a candidate is likely to qualify will be a very important factor in your decision.”
To qualify, a gubernatorial candidate must raise $250,000, accepting individual contributions of no more than $100. Participating candidates also must agree to spend no more than the qualifying contributions and public grant.
The last campaign finance reports covered the period ending March 31. Candidates are not required to make further disclosures about their fundraising until July 10, when they must report contributions and expenditures made in the three-month period ending June 30.
To analyze the fundraising, the CT Mirror has an interactive map that shows where the candidates are getting their money.
- McKinney, who declared his candidacy on July 23, had raised $172,004 from 1,962 contributors. Nearly a quarter of his money came from his hometown of Fairfield.
- Foley, who started raising money with an exploratory committee in September and declared his candidacy in January, had raised $137,042, with $115,135 from 1,406 contributors to his candidate committee and $21,907 transferred from his exploratory. Nearly half the contributions came from his hometown of Greenwich and neighboring Stamford.
- Boughton, who started raising money with an exploratory committee in August and declared his candidacy in January, had raised $141,994, with $114,106 from 1,050 contributors to his candidate committee and $27,888 from his exploratory. More than a quarter of his contributions came from his hometown of Danbury.
- Lauretti has raised $106,735 from 1,340 donors since declaring in late December, with more than half coming from Shelton and seven surrounding communities. His tally from Shelton alone was $45,095.
- Visconti has reported raising just $13,072 since last summer, though he does not identify donors for most of his contributions. He is not trying to qualify for public financing.
Foley said he will release a campaign finance report Thursday that identifies donors, money raised and expenditures. Foley said the candidates for every spot on the statewide ticket should make a similar disclosure.