Yep, that was Tom Foley, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s biggest Republican headache, on the streets of downtown New Haven Wednesday with a microphone in hand and video camera in tow.
Foley was asking the questions, not answering them.
But he was campaigning, too.
In what may be a first for a local political campaign, the candidate decided to play the role of reporter as he pressed flesh and sought voters’ support.
Foley—a Republican gubernatorial candidate who ran against Malloy in 2010 and is neck-and-neck with him in the polls as he seeks a rematch this year—stopped voter Joan Mazurek outside the state courthouse at Church and Elm streets across from the Green.
Video rolling, he asked her questions reporter-style about jobs and taxes, two issues he’s hoping can propel him to victory this time.
“What about spending,” he asked. “What do you think about spending? What would you do aboutspending?”
Then he pointed the mic at Mazurek.
“People should be out there earning!” Mazurek told him.
The last gubernatorial election year saw the rise of a new campaign tactic: candidates dispatching citizen “trackers” to video opponents’ every move in public. Click here to watch a scene from the emergence of that phenomenon in New Haven, when Malloy stopped by the old Bru coffeehouse on Orange Street.
Might politician-reporters become this year’s new campaign tactic?
Foley said the reporter shtick was his idea, a tool to add to the kit as he seeks voters’ views. “Some of this stuff we might throw up on YouTube,” he said.
“Believe me, I’m not very good at it,” he said of his first tour of duty in the politician press corps. “I keep getting the mic wrong,” pointing it away from himself while speaking, and vice versa.
“I’m going to get better. I’ve only been doing it for 15 minutes.”
During his “interview” with Mazurek, Foley occasionally segued from asking questions to offering answers. As in: “You have to spend so much on taxes …” But he mostly stuck with questions. Such as: “What would you do to bring more jobs to the state?” (“There are jobs,” Mazurek told him.) And: “You’re retired. Do you know anybody here who doesn’t have a job? Who’s looking for one?” Her son’s friends are, she replied. And they’re having trouble.
Mazurek closed the interview with a made-for-pay-TV moment.
“I’m voting for you!” she told reporter Foley.
“Well, you’re an engaged citizen,” he responded. “Thank you very much.”