Public Office: Republican Town Committee Chair, Darien; Republican State Party Finance Chair, 2007
Background: Orchulli is a former fashion executive – the financial half of a 21-year partnership with iconic designer Michael Kors. He sold his ownership interest in 2003 and a year later burst onto the Connecticut political scene, running against Sen. Christopher Dodd. Orchulli won 33 percent of the vote after pumping nearly $1.5 million into the race, all but about $50,000 his own money. Even so, Dodd outspent Orchulli $4 to for every $1 Orchulli spent.
Orchulli didn’t register as a Republican until 2003, but said he always voted Republican in statewide and presidential races. He still votes for Democrats occasionally in local races, he said.
Although he has never been elected to public office, he has remained politically active on the Republican town committee in Darien and as the state party finance chairman. He served as a $1/year assistant to Mayor Richard Moccia of Norwalk and most recently served as a director of the Connecticut Development Authority. He considered trying again to win Dodd’s seat this year, but said Linda McMahon’s “nifty $50 million” had him looking to seek office elsewhere.
“I don’t have those sort of funds,” he said, adding that he admires her business practices. “To make that much money is hard. Her competency as a business leader is unquestionable.”
Orchulli did say he made a small fortune when selling his shares in Michael Kors, but not enough to spend $50 million on a U.S. Senate race.
Fiscal responsibility has always been Orchulli’s mantra. His campaign web site features a Connecticut deficit clock that shows the numbers running up and a warning that Connecticut could become “the next General Motors” if the state’s economic house is not put in order.
He told the nominating convention in May: “No, I am not an accountant, I am a businessperson.” If elected, he promised to bring skepticism to government spending and to help “straighten out our financial mess.”
He is positioning himself as an independent voice that will speak the truth about Connecticut’s finances and insist on GAPP – generally accepted accounting practices – that don’t hide debt.
Orchulli plans to participate in the state’s public campaign finance program to bankroll his campaign. But first, he must first qualify by raising $75,000 in donations of $100 or less to receive $750,000 in public grants. His Democratic opponent, Kevin Lembo, has already qualified for a public financing.
“I know some Republicans have voiced opposition to public financing but I think it keeps big money out of the race,” Orchulli said, speaking from being outspent by Dodd during his last attempt to get elected to public office.
Education: BA, Rutgers; Masters in Finance, Baruch College
Personal: Orchulli, 64, is divorced with a grown son. He lives in Darien