WATERTOWN — Republican Tom Foley received the endorsement of one faction of the Independent Party on Tuesday night. Unless the other faction disputes that endorsement, Foley’s name will appear on the ballot twice on Election Day in November.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party and will also appear twice on the ballot in November.
“If Gov. Malloy was not allowed to be listed by the Working Families Party, I would have won the election,” Foley testified at a legislative hearing in 2013. Foley lost in 2010 by 6,404 votes. That year, the Independent Party endorsed Chester First Selectman Thomas Marsh, who received more than 17,000 votes.
After winning the endorsement with 24 votes Tuesday, Foley said he doesn’t recall making that statement and doesn’t believe the statement.
“I’ve never felt that way,” Foley said. “I actually thought I probably lost net 2,500 votes.”
He said he thinks Marsh pulled votes from both Democrats and Republicans in 2010, adding that Marsh didn’t spend much money on the race so people really didn’t know who they were voting for. Foley said votes went to Marsh because people either didn’t like him or they didn’t like Malloy.
Trinity College Engineering Professor John Mertens challenged Foley for the endorsement Tuesday, but he wasn’t able to draw enough support from Independent Party members in attendance. He received 16 votes.
Before the vote, Mertens said he believes the Independent Party should nominate someone from its own ranks, instead of cross-endorsing another candidate.
“I’m fed up with the two-party system,” Mertens said. “Voters are too.”
He said neither candidate is talking about solutions to the problems the state faces.
The Independent Party has more than 17,000 members statewide, but two factions of the party have been fighting amongst themselves for the past few years.
That means that even though Foley received the nomination, the Danbury faction of the party could cancel it out if they nominate a different candidate. And that could ultimately cost the Independent Party automatic access to the ballot in the governor’s race.
The two factions of the party — the Danbury faction and the Waterbury faction — were in court earlier this month trying to work out their differences. They were able to reach a settlement regarding certain state Senate and state House races, but were unable to come to a conclusion about the statewide offices.
“We agreed not to agree on the statewide races,” Michael Telesca, who heads up the Waterbury faction of the party, said. “If they’re not happy with the results of tonight’s caucus they could challenge it.”
The Danbury faction of the party made some endorsements this week but is holding off on nominating a candidate in the gubernatorial election, according to an attorney for the faction’s chairman, John Dietter.
“They understand there are two candidates vying for the Independent Party nomination. The reason the Danbury faction has gone into recess at this moment is to look more in depth at the candidates before picking next week,” attorney Stephen Harding said Tuesday.
If the two factions arrive at different conclusions, the nominations will essentially cancel each other out and no gubernatorial candidate will appear on the ballot line for the Independent Party.
“We’re hoping that doesn’t happen. We’re hoping both parties will end up picking the same candidates,” Harding said.
The party has until Sept. 3 to submit its endorsement to the Secretary of the State.
Hugh McQuaid contributed to this report