After Tom Foley announced that he would veto Connecticut’s proposed assisted suicide bill, he became the first ever candidate for governor to secure an endorsement from the Family Institute of Connecticut’s Political Action Committee — an organization whose stated purpose is the preservation of traditional family values.
The PAC endorsed Foley last week after his statement denouncing the bill, which has come up for debate twice and is expected to reappear for a vote.
Foley’s stance on physician-assisted suicide, coupled with his willingness to meet with the group, made him a clear choice for endorsement, said Peter Wolfgang, executive director at the Family Institute.
“This is the first time a candidate has been willing to have a conversation [with PAC],” Wolfgang said. “Just the fact that Foley has been willing to sit down with us increased our confidence.”
The PAC did not endorse Malloy’s predecessor Republican Jodi Rell because they never met face-to-face with the former governor to discuss issues, Wolfgang said. Foley met with the PAC twice over the summer.
He added that the organization did not endorse Foley in the 2010 race because they could not identify any significant policy differences between Foley and Gov. Dannel Malloy. This year, Malloy has not yet weighed in on the question of physician-assisted suicide.
According to State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, Malloy has not said he would veto the assisted suicide bill, but he has expressed grave concerns about it and looked into palliative care options, which aim to relieve the stress of severe illness through medication and therapy.
Palliative care options have received bipartisan support in Connecticut. Republican State Senator Jason Welch, ranking member of the Senate Public Health Committee, shared Malloy’s favor of palliative care, which he said is underutilized in the state.
“We all sympathize with people who are coping with terminal illnesses. However, a doctor writing a prescription to end a patient’s life is not health care,” he said. “Medicine and public policy should focus on eliminating suffering not the sufferer.”
Though Foley’s stance on physician-assisted suicide is not that controversial, the Family Institute’s gesture caused conflict because of the its reputation as “fairly extreme,” Looney said.
“[The endorsement] is surprising,” he said. “I really can’t see how it will help [Foley] in the general election.”
Yale College Democrats Elections Coordinator Tyler Blackmon ’16 said that he expected voters to be most concerned with economic issues in November, but noted that the PAC’s support for Foley was “huge” because it was a first-time endorsement.
“We know the institute has some pretty right-wing ideas,” he said. “They oppose the transgender rights bill in the state of CT, they were upset with the governor for flying a rainbow flag over the governor’s mansion … The question is: which of those does views does Tom Foley support?”
Yale College Republicans President Andrea Barragan ’16 said in an email that she is excited the PAC endorsed Foley for supporting family values.
The PAC has made clear that though they do not agree with Foley on all issues, they believe that he is more “pro-family” than Malloy, Barragan said. She shared the institute’s view that Malloy “has not been working towards a Connecticut where families can prosper.”
The general election will take place on Nov. 4.