Christine Stuart photo

Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, the man who has been Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s sidekick for the past three years formally announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor Wednesday.

The announcement came Wednesday at a Connecticut Business and Industry Association meeting of small manufacturing businesses. As he walked briskly to his car following the brief speech, Fedele said he’s jumping into the race with both feet and filing a campaign committee. “There’s nothing for me to explore,” Fedele said.

Fedele, 54, informally announced his intentions to seek the state’s top spot minutes after Rell, one of the most popular governor’s in the nation, said she would not seek another term on Nov. 9.

In what some viewed as a miscalculation Fedele told the media that Rell told him privately that she would support his gubernatorial bid over that of his Republican contenders. One day later Rell told reporters in New Britain that Fedele’s statement was premature.

But that was all in the past Wednesday as Fedele spoke about his vision for the state at the Cromwell Crowne Plaza.

“I am running for governor because like you I believe we are facing a defining moment in Connecticut,” Fedele told the crowd of about 100 business people. “I am running to get our economy working and to get our people back to work.”

By holding one of the state’s six constitutional positions, Fedele will likely be viewed as one of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination. And in a struggling economy, with high unemployment, his business background may work in his favor. Fedele is the founder and chairman of the Pinnacle Group, a information and technology company in Stamford.

“I have legislative, executive branch, and business experience,” Fedele said Wednesday.

Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, who has been running for the U.S. Senate nomination, said last week that he was considering dropping out of that race and running for governor instead. On Wednesday Foley’s Senate campaign sent out an email saying Foley will be making a major announcement Thursday afternoon at the Hartford Hilton. Political insiders suspect he will be making the jump from the Senate campaign to campaign for governor.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero of Norwalk and Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney of Southport have also expressed interest in running for governor. Cafero has already formed an exploratory committee and McKinney said Monday that he will make his decision before Christmas.

When asked about what he thought about his Republican competition, Fedele said he’s not looking at what the other people bring to the table. He said he’s focusing right now on his campaign.

Chris Cooper, Fedele’s campaign spokesman, said Fedele plans on participating in the state’s public campaign finance system, which means he will be limited to raising up $100 per person. Once he raises $250,000 he will be eligible for a $1.25 million state grant.

Click here to read the full text of Fedele’s speech Wednesday.