Fedele endorses one-time bitter rival for governor

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele (file photo)

CT Mirror

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele (file photo)

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, the Stamford Republican who narrowly lost a bitterly contested gubernatorial primary four years ago, on Thursday endorsed the man who defeated him.

Fedele endorsed Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, who this time is in another primary for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. This time Foley is competing against state Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney of Fairfield. The GOP primary is set for Aug. 12.

“I am proud to endorse Tom Foley for governor of Connecticut,” Fedele wrote in a statement. “Tom will bring responsible fiscal policies to the Capitol and will help reverse the destructive economic policies of Gov. [Dannel P.] Malloy.”

According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the state’s finances are on pace for a $1.4 billion deficit, about 7 percent of annual operating expenses, in the first new budget after the election.

Fedele had frustrated Foley in 2010 with a series of radio and television ads that alleged Foley’s business practices ruined a Georgia textile mill in the mid-1990s and cost thousands of workers their jobs.

Foley said the ads were inaccurate and unfounded.

The Bibb plant, located in a former in Muscogee County that has since been incorporated in Columbus, Ga., did file for bankruptcy in 1996.

Foley’s management company, NTC Group, received about $20 million in payments from The Bibb mill during its final five years. Foley said these were payments for payroll, human resource and other services rendered. But Fedele argued in 2010 that these excessive management fees really represented big profits for Foley and weakened the plant such that two years later, under new management, it closed and left thousands unemployed.

Malloy, who narrowly defeated Foley in the 2010 general election, also attacked Foley over his management of the Bibb complex during that race.

Malloy, who inherited a $3.7 billion budget deficit when he took office in 2011, has said he believes the latest projected shortfall will be closed. The governor said he expects the state’s economy will grow faster, and increase state revenues, faster than analysts have estimated.

Malloy also has said he believes he can limit spending growth in the 2015-16 fiscal year to between 2 and 3 percent, which also would help to close the shortfall.