Two more Republicans candidates for statewide office emerged Thursday with just one day left before the opening of the Republican convention.
Rep. Arthur O’Neill of Southbury, ranking member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said Thursday he will jump into the race for attorney general and Jack Orchulli, who ran against U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd in 2004, will run for state comptroller.
O’Neill will be vying for the nomination against what could possibly be five candidates on the Republican side, while Orchulli is the only Republican candidate to announce. On the Democratic side there’s only one candidate vying for attorney general and possibly four seeking the nomination for state comptroller.
A solo practitioner for 32 years, O’Neill said he believes his time overseeing the 24 attorneys and several investigators during then-Gov. John G. Rowland’s impeachment hearings, shows that he has the skills to run a large constitutional office.
O’Neill will be competing against, Ross Garber, chief counsel for the office of the governor during those same hearings.
Admitting it was a little late to be getting into the race, O’Neill said he went down to Stamford for the Prescott Bush dinner Wednesday evening to “test the waters.” What he found is that delegates weren’t really committed to any of the other candidates in the race.
“I had the feeling that this was not locked up,” O’Neill said.
The Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week declaring that Susan Bysiewicz was not qualified to run for attorney general also contributed to O’Neill’s decision. As much as his announcement Thursday may have sounded “opportunistic,” O’Neill said if Bysiewicz was still in the race she would have been a “formidable” candidate in the general election.
O’Neill said his 32 years in civil, criminal, and administrative law and helping run the “biggest investigation” in the state’s history makes him qualified for the job.
Garber announced his candidacy Wednesday a few hours before the fundraising dinner.
Martha Dean of Avon and John Pavia of Easton are also vying for the Republican nomination. There’s also the possibility that Kie Westby, also of Southbury, may get into the race as well.
Orchulli, who started a business with fashion designer Michael Kors then sold his interest in the fashion enterprise in 2004 to challenge Dodd, said his business background will help him be the state’s chief fiscal officer.
As comptroller Orchulli said he would present an “unvarnished look” at how tax dollars are spent and “make sure the General Assembly makes the tough choices.”
Orchulli joked earlier this week that he wanted another shot at Dodd, but “he abandoned me.”