After promising for months that he would get there, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele became the first Republican candidate for governor to submit his clean elections application Thursday.
Fedele said he was able to raise $250,000 in small donations under $100 from 3,000 individuals in just six-months. A far shorter time frame than the more than 12 months it took Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy.
Since Tom Foley, the lately beleaguered frontrunner in the Republican primary, has opted out of the public campaign financing system, it’s likely Fedele will receive the full $2.25 million state grant for the primary.
“The people of Connecticut have stated repeatedly they want special interest influence out of politics,” said Fedele. “This tremendous outpouring of support in such a short period of time shows our campaign has a real grassroots, not just a personal checkbook or a few friends in high places.”
A few weeks ago as Fedele was still pushing toward the $250,000 fundraising goal, Foley’s campaign manager Justin Clark tried to thwart his efforts by appealing to Republican opposition to the clean elections program.
“As a Republican I don’t mind a primary, but I do mind that the Lieutenant Governor is trying to use taxpayers’ dollars to finance his campaign,” Clark said. “He is asking people for contributions so he can qualify to use taxpayers’ money for advertising, balloons, bumper stickers and high priced consultants against a fellow Republican.”
“Most Republicans don’t understand how a candidate for Governor whose most important leadership challenge will be reducing government spending can start off by asking taxpayers to pay up to $2.5 million for his primary campaign,” Clark added.
In a phone interview Thursday Fedele said it was no easy feat to raise 3,000 in small donations and will urge the legislature to take another look at the qualifying formula.
“It was difficult,” Fedele said. “But we did in just six months.”
He said the accomplishment frees him up to dedicate more time toward getting his message out. As one of the few candidates still holding down a full-time job, Fedele said he plans on spending every minute of his free time on the campaign trail.
Back in 2006 when he was running with outgoing Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Fedele said the two were holding fundraisers right up until election day.
Fedele’s running mate Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton also met his fundraising goal for participating in the program by raising the $75,000 in qualifying funds. Boughton is the second candidate for lieutenant governor to file his application for the $375,000 state grant. Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman plans on filing this month and state Comptroller Nancy Wyman has already received her $375,000 check. Republican businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, who is also running for lieutenant governor, has opted out of the clean elections program.