House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero said Wednesday he will announce by the end of this month whether he will run for governor next year.
Cafero has been considering entering the 2014 gubernatorial race for his some time. He spoke with reporters Wednesday following a swearing-in ceremony for state Rep. Sam Belsito, R-Tolland.
Although Cafero had planned to make an announcement by the end of this Spring, he said he is “still considering” launching a campaign.
“I said the end of Spring that’s the 21st, probably more accurately the end of this month, so the end of June,” he said.
The comments came the same day Quinnipiac University released a poll taking an early look at the 2014 gubernatorial field. In the poll of 1,154 registered voters, Cafero ranked at the bottom of the potential Republican contenders.
Tom Foley, the 2010 Republican candidate who lost a close election to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was the highest polling Republican in Wednesday’s poll. He captured 36 percent of those surveyed. State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney trailed Foley with 11 percent, and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton received 8 percent. Cafero received 4 percent. Another 37 percent of voters are undecided.
Cafero said he was not surprised about the poll results, particularly Foley’s lead. He chalked up the candidate’s high numbers to name recognition as a result of Foley’s 2010 campaign.
“If somebody spent $14 million four years ago, name recognition is going to be high. So I had no doubt that that would be the case,” he said. “I think if you went back four years and looked at even Mr. Malloy’s numbers and certainly Mr. Foley’s, they were barely a blip and that’s usually the course of things in any election.”
The poll also found Malloy trailing Foley 43 to 40 percent. Malloy has struggled since taking office to exceed a 50 percent approval rating in the polls. Cafero said he would have expected a stronger showing from a Democratic incumbent in Connecticut, regardless of performance. He blamed the governor’s numbers on the state’s economy and his personality.
“Listen, you know, [former Gov.] Lowell Weicker didn’t exactly have warm and fuzzies but the economy did a lot better under his administration,” he said.
Cafero said he believes voters respond to the personalities of their elected officials. He said the public has had three years to observe Malloy’s tone and body language at press conferences and other events. He suggested the governor could try to be nicer.
“Every once in awhile to admit you’re wrong, to smile a little bit, and be nice too, but that does not seem to be in the governor’s nature. But to each his own,” he said.
The House minority leader did credit Malloy with strong leadership during times of crisis like the storms that have hit the state during his term and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year.
“I think he did exhibit excellent leadership. We all stood behind him as he led us through those dark times,” he said.