The Connecticut Citizens Defense League, a gun owners’ group whose membership blossomed in opposition to the post-Newtown gun controls, today endorsed Republican Tom Foley for governor, snubbing one of its activists, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti.

“Governor Dannel Malloy has a proven track record of supporting anti-rights legislation and has vilified and ostracized Connecticut gun owners throughout his term. It is time for him to be to be replaced,” CCDL says an endorsement posed on its web site. We strongly believe that the team of Tom Foley and Heather Somers will take Connecticut in a new direction that is so desperately needed.”

News of the endorsement was immediately promoted by the campaign of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, evidence that the Democratic Party, at least, sees advantage in tying Foley to a group that Malloy’s backers are calling “extremist.”

Speaking after a speech to the AFL-CIO in East Hartford, Malloy said Foley’s statement that he would sign a bill repealing the Newtown law is an invitation for the legislature to act.

“This election is about a choice, and the choices are becoming clearer and clearer and clearer. Tom Foley has said to them that he will sign a repeal. When a governor says he’ll sign a bill or he’ll sign a repeal, he’s actually advocating a position,” Malloy said.

In response to press inquiries, Foley’s campaign spokesman, Chris Cooper, said the GOP nominee accepted the endorsement.

“We welcome the support of the CCDL and any group seeking change in Connecticut. CCDL members have been bullied by Governor Malloy as have teachers, state workers and parents,” Cooper said in a statement. “They are unhappy with where Connecticut is, as are so many people across the state under Governor Malloy’s failed policies.  The endorsement by CCDL means they are confident that Tom Foley and his plan will take Connecticut in a better direction.”

The group endorsed entire GOP ticket of congressional candidates, most of other state-wide candidates and dozens of legislative candidates of both parties. The endorsements were long expected.

“I’m shocked,” Malloy said with a smile, clutching his chest. “I’m shocked. I’m amazed.”

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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