Independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Marsh was both realistic and gratified in the final hours of his campaign.
Marsh, the Republican First Selectman of Chester, said he viewed this election year as a landmark for Independent Party candidates in terms of organization and recognition.
Marsh ran for governor initially as a Republican, but chose to join the Independent Party ticket before the Republican primary.
“We’ve gone from a bunch of entities scattered across the state, with some agreement on issues, to working hard to expand,” he said, while standing with a campaign sign in the parking lot of Our Lady of Loreto Church in Waterbury. Party members are hoping to capture a greater share of the vote and increase their status as a viable choice. “We’ve also shown that you can have a minor party that does not focus on just one issue.”
About 40 registered Independents hold office across the state, according to Larry DePillo, co-founder of the Independent Party of Waterbury. “Thanks to Mike (Telesca’s) and Tom’s efforts, we have a greater state presence,” added DePillo. Telesca is the Independent candidate for Secretary of the State and helps town Independent parties get started.
Marsh downplayed the idea that his presence on the ballot could sway the election toward either Democrat Dan Malloy or Republican Tom Foley.
“My feeling is that I likely will pull voters from both parties,” he said. “If there is less than 1 percent difference between the two of them (winner and loser) then maybe you could make the argument that I had some influence. But I’ve gotten a lot of support from unaffiliated voters, and they don’t vote one way or the other. I think it’s in the hands of the candidates—whoever wins, earns it.”
Voters also may have spent more time reviewing this year’s ballot because of the new names, Marsh suggested, and fewer people were voting along straight party lines because of the small number of incumbents up for election.
As for his own candidacy, Marsh said that while he expected to wake up Wednesday with no other job than first selectman of Chester, he was heartened by the public’s response to his campaign and message. “This wasn’t intended to be a career move,” Marsh said of his gubernatorial run. His decision to run “was a matter of conscience – I wanted to spark a broader discussion of the issues. At the party level, I did not hear much discussion about home rule and community government. I was discouraged by how narrow the discussions were … I do want to be supportive of state government reform.”
Marsh was campaigning in Waterbury in part because the Independent Party has made in-roads into local government. His running mate, Cicero Booker, also is a Waterbury alderman. “There has been more support for me here, so I decided to show support for the candidates here,” Marsh explained.
Booker spent the morning campaigning in some of the city’s neighborhoods. “People seemed receptive,” he said. “People say we are important for the political system. Many said they will vote for us, but I don’t know if they will.”
The candidates’ campaigns were hands-on. When Telesca and Marsh made a stop at Swift Middle School in Watertown, they pulled over to put signs up in front of the school after spotting none there. At Fletcher W. Judson School, Marsh joined Harry Finley waving at drivers as they pulled in to vote. Harry is husband of Tara Finley, Watertown’s Independent Party candidate for Registrar of Voters.
Marsh started the day in Chester, voting and talking with people at the polls. “There were lots of well-wishers there and people giving thumbs up and saying, ‘good luck,’” he said. “If there was a theme to the discussions, it was that they were discouraged with the campaigns my opponents have run – very negative – and they wish they had heard of me sooner.”
Obviously, Marsh was expecting to see higher numbers in Chester than most other towns in the state. “I got support from both the Republicans and the Democrats and people support the effort I made and that I ran a campaign based on issues.”
His concern about the next governor is the ability to make tough, unpopular decisions when it comes to the state budget. “All three of us understand the fiscal crisis we’re facing,” Marsh noted. “Cuts have to be made, but they have to be made fairly. No one should be shielded because of political connections. If people perceive that favoritism is involved in the budget cuts, there will be battles.”
Marsh planned to wrap up the day with a stop in Milford to support Independent candidates there, and then return home to prepare for a reception for friends and family who would be joining him watching the election returns.