Christine Stuart photo

Former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley announced Thursday that he will be running for the Republican nomination for governor and abandoning his six-month campaign for the U.S. Senate.

After being urged to take questions from the media Foley said his campaign probably won’t use the state’s public campaign finance system. “We plan to raise money and spend my own money if we go that way,” Foley said.

Foley did not say how much of his own money he would be willing to spend on the race.

He also didn’t lay out any policies saying only that he would be forming a team in the next few weeks to “make recommendations for solving the problems we face.” 

“This actually wasn’t a press conference,” Foley said after leaving the podium when he was finished with his announcement. “I’m going to circulate and I’d be happy to talk to you one-on-one.”

In his prepared remarks made in a small ballroom at the Hartford Hilton, Foley said he was encouraged to run for governor even before he jumped into the U.S. Senate race. But at the time it was assumed that Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell was still running for re-election.

Rell announced on Nov. 9 that she would not be seeking re-election, which changed the Republican landscape for both the U.S. Senate race and the race for governor.

Christine Stuart photo

Foley said his supporters initially “suggested that the Governorship was the office where my experience and interest in serving Connecticut would have the most impact.”

“They believe our next Governor should be someone who is new to Hartford; someone who will bring new ideas, new energy, and a new approach to managing our state; and, someone who will come with no strings attached – accountable only to the voters,” Foley said.

Like Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, Foley highlighted the need to create jobs in the state and turn around the economy, but did not lay out any specific plans about how to accomplish it.

Both Fedele and Foley have run their own businesses and agree increasing taxes is not the solution to the state’s budget crisis.

But the themes of job creation and improving the economy also will be prevalent in the Democratic primary for governor.

“Connecticut’s future needs to be about jobs and economic development,” Ned Lamont, one of the six Democratic candidates for governor, said in a release Thursday. “If Tom Foley or Michael Fedele believe that they have something to offer, then I welcome them to the debate and look forward to future discussions about how we, as a community, get Connecticut back on track.”

The Senate Race

On the Republican side with both Foley and state Sen. Sam Caligiuri leaving the U.S. Senate race, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, and financial manager Peter Schiff remain.

“I have the utmost respect for Tom Foley’s accomplishments both as a businessman and as a public servant and I wish him the best of luck in his next endeavor,” Schiff said in a statement Thursday. “The decision-making process has just been made a little easier for Connecticut voters and I’m going to continue to work hard to earn their vote next November.”

Simmons also released a statement.

“Tom proved to be a worthy competitor who brought diverse experience to the table and who spoke convincingly and with authority about the critical issues facing our state and nation,” Simmons said. “I salute his many years of loyal service to the Republican Party and I wish him, and his family the best in their future endeavors.”

Click here to listen to the audio of Foley’s announcement. Courtesy of WNPR.