(Updated) In what will be seen by some as either a brilliant strategic move or a lame one, one of the leading Republican candidates for governor decided not to pick a running mate.
A news release from Greenwich businessman Tom Foley on Monday afternoon said he will let the delegates at the convention and the Republican primary voters decide, which of two lieutenant governor candidates, will join him on the ticket.
Foley’s announcement comes just hours after Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced that he will drop his own bid for governor to run as Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s number two.
Candidates for lieutenant governor stand independently before the convention for a vote and they run independently in the primary. Given that these are the rules, Foley called the tradition of picking a running mate, “an out-of-date remnant of our pre-primary system.“
In 2006, Democrat Dannel Malloy had chosen First Selectwoman Mary Glassman as his running mate, but when the voters went to the polls for the primary they paired New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. with Glassman for the General Election.
Boughton, who claims to have garnered at least 15 percent of the delegates necessary to wage a primary, may have been able to persuade his delegates to come with him and vote for Fedele. However, those delegates can still vote for Boughton for lieutenant governor and either Foley, Fedele, or one of the other three Republican candidates. The decision will largely be left up to the more than 1,400 Republican delegates.
If the lieutenant governor candidate chosen to run in the General Election ends up being a poor choice, Foley can always say he didn’t pick them. The decision to let the delegates and the voters decide for him not only gives Foley plausible deniability, it makes him look like he supports the party machine.
“I have been an enthusiastic and committed supporter of the Republican Party all of my life,“ Foley said in his news release. “I respect the rules and procedures the party has chosen for nominating candidates for office.”
Foley’s campaign spokeswoman said the campaign had a process in place for finding qualified lieutenant governor candidates, but at the end of the day “he decided to leave it up to the convention and the voters.”
In the news release, Foley said he would be happy to work with Boughton or Lisa Wilson-Foley, the other candidate for lieutenant governor.
“This year, the Republican Party has great opportunities and many good candidates for office, including for Lieutenant Governor. Mark Boughton, who Mike Fedele has said he wants as his running mate, is one of them,” said Foley. “If elected Governor, I will be happy to have Mark serve alongside me and assist with the challenging job of turning Connecticut around.”
“But there are other good candidates who could also serve well. Candidates who would provide a diversity of experience and backgrounds, including choices from outside Fairfield County. One of them is Lisa Wilson-Foley,” said Foley.
Wilson-Foley, is a businesswoman from Avon, who announced in early April that she will petition her way onto the primary ballot. Calls to her campaign were not immediately returned and it’s unclear if she will seek delegate support.
In addition to considering Boughton and Wilson-Foley, “I am also going to encourage other qualified individuals to enter the race to promote a dialogue that will give Republican delegates and primary voters the best choice for the office,” Foley said.
Fedele’s campaign did not immediately return calls for comment on Foley’s decision.