(Updated 8:21 p.m.) A former state senator, who was one of the last of then Gov. John G. Rowland’s supporters in 2004, was buzzing around the Capitol Thursday exploring a candidacy for Republican Party Chairman.
Bill Aniskovich of Branford, who lost his seat in 2004 to Sen. Ed Meyer, said he’s not officially a candidate to lead the Republican Party, but is interested in the job.
“I’m looking to get back into politics,” said Aniskovich.
The position of party chairman wouldn’t require Aniskovich to leave his job as CEO of the Stonington Institute, which is why it’s something he’s considering.
However, he said Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy has a lot of support, and if he planned to run for reelection Aniskovich would step aside.
Healy said Thursday evening that he was still gauging support and talking to the newly elected 23 members of the state committee. He said he will make an announcement about his intentions shortly.
“If the reports are correct this afternoon that Chris Healy is running for another term as GOP Chair, count everyone at the CT Democratic Party as his first pledged supporters,” Democratic Party Chairman Nancy DiNardo said in a press release. “We pray every day that Chris Healy will continue as the chief spokesman and strategist for the CT GOP. With his track record of losing elections and saying bizarre things, who could be better for us? Where do we sign up to volunteer?”
DiNardo was up at the Capitol Thursday and spotted Aniskovich making the rounds.
“It’s amusing how their only alternative is William Aniskovich, a steadfast supporter of corrupt Governor Rowland. For once, Rush Limbaugh is right—the CT GOP is truly pathetic,” DiNardo said referring to comments the conservative radio host made about Connecticut Republicans being the most depressed bunch of Republicans in the country.
Aniskovich laughed after reading the email and replied, “I’m not even a declared candidate.”
Healy and Aniskovich aren’t the only two interested in the seat. There are several candidates lining up for the June election.
The list includes Doug Hageman of Southington, Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Art Scialabba, Greenwich Republican Town Committee Chairman Jim Campbell, and possibly former state Sen. Sam Caligiuri of Waterbury, and former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons.
Healy, whose wife Suzan Bibisi worked for former U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon in 2010, has been widely criticized for the party’s decision to endorse the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO.
McMahon squeezed out Simmons to shore up the party’s nomination for the Senate seat and many Republicans, including Simmons himself, believe backroom deals were made to make sure McMahon received the nomination and Healy’s wife kept her job.
Healy denied any such deal was cut on behalf of McMahon, but some Republicans like to point out every candidate Healy favored to run under the party’s banner ran and lost. And despite his zeal and snappy press releases, many feel those losses mean there’s a need for new party leadership which explains the large number of candidates.
Healy called those notions “absurd.”
“McMahon was nominated by a convention and won in a primary,” Healy said. “I had nothing to do with the endorsement.”
As for his record, Healy said there are 25 more Republicans in local office than there were four years ago before Healy took over the party. Republicans also made big gains in the state House and gained two seats in the state Senate last year. Healy said his party was also instrumental in making sure former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd retire and made sure former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz wasn’t able to run in 2010. He said he’s played a big role in making sure some prominent Democrats no longer hold elected office.