Friday, August 06, 2010

Connecticut Governor Race

Race of the Day

Connecticut Governor

August 6, 2010
88 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

The Nutmeg State has not elected a Democrat to the Governorship since 1986, but if the current polls are to be believed, that could change this year, and in a year where Republicans look strong, the state of Connecticut could be one of the brighter spots for Democrats.

Incumbent moderate GOP Governor Jodi Rell remains popular and likely could have been elected to any office she wanted to in Connecticut. She has decided to step aside though after this year, after what will be about six and a half years as Governor. Her popularity and easy 2006 election are even more impressive considering she was elevated to the office of Governor after her long time running mate resigned during a corruption investigation and would later go on to prison.

With Rell off the scene, Democrats' chances of ending their drought improved. The state party has endorsed Dan Malloy, the former Mayor of Stamford, who had previously tried to win the nomination for Governor in 2006, but he has been struggling to keep up with the wealthy businessman Ned Lamont. Back in the same year that Malloy lost his bid for Governor, Lamont, captured the Democrat U.S. Senate nomination over nationally prominent incumbent Joe Lieberman, as liberal activists and blogger types from across the country made the defeat of Lieberman a cause celebre. However, the seemingly defeated incumbent used state election law to his advantage and was able to appear on the November ballot as an Independent and won reelection regardless.

The millionaire Lamont has led Malloy in the somewhat regular Quinnipiac polls out of the state, but the margin is now much closer, with Lamont only ahead by five points in the latest survey. With the party organization behind him, Malloy may be able to win an upset in this coming Tuesday's primary.

The two main Republican candidates to succeed Rell are her Lt. Governor Michael Fedele and Thomas Foley, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. Foley dropped out of a contest for the U.S. Senate to run instead for Governor, and he has been endorsed by the state GOP. Foley also is wealthy and has been spending money on his campaign. While Foley's lead in those Quinnipiac polls over Fedele has been shrinking, it does appear to be large enough to survive Tuesday's vote. A third Republican candidate businessman Oz Griebel is also polling in the double digits, but has no realistic path to primary victory with just a few days of campaigning left..

Some polls earlier this year showed Foley in a very solid position, but more recently, the surveys from Quinnipiac show the GOP frontrunner trailing Lamont by 13 points and Malloy by 15 points. Fedele runs slightly worse against the Democrats.

The margin is reasonable enough that it could be made up in the final months of the campaign and perhaps this particular polling outfit is an outlier, but for now, it does look like in a year where the narrative is once again about "change", Connecticut voters may be willing to give Democrats a chance. That is despite the fact that voters seemingly remain satisfied with the outgoing Republican Governor Ned Lamont may still have to overcome some issues relating to the divisive nature of his statewide political career, if he formally becomes the Democrat candidate for Governor. It would be interesting to see if Senator Joe Lieberman, who still considers himself a Democrat, would be willing to endorse him.

If Foley wins the Republican nomination on Tuesday, he will have the money to be competitive, and if Lamont is his opponent, the race might be quite expensive.

Foley campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 3 D, 4 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 10 D, 10 R