After conceding defeat to Gov. Dannel Malloy for the second time in four years, Tom Foley said that his 2014 run for elected office would likely be his last.
Instead, Foley looked to his running mate, Heather Somers, to lead the Nutmeg state’s Republicans.
Foley conceded in an email to supporters at 1 p.m. yesterday, and Malloy confirmed that he had received a phone call from Foley earlier in the day. In his speech at the Old Greenwich Hyatt Regency early Wednesday morning, Foley thanked his supporters and said he expected Somers to emerge as a leader in the Connecticut Republican Party.
“She is someone who has a great future in politics in Connecticut,” Foley said, amid supporters’ cheers. “Despite the stress of running for office and serving in office, I hope that those who qualify to lead will be drawn to run, as I have.”
Somers gave a nod to Foley’s acknowledgement and waved to three supporters in the back who shouted, “We love you, Heather.”
Before she ran for lieutenant governor, Somers served as mayor of Groton, Conn. She beat out state Rep. Penny Bacchiochi and former U.S. Comptroller David Walker in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.
But Gary Rose, chairman of the Government and Politics department at Sacred Heart University, said Somers is not the only potential leader of Connecticut Republicans.
Rose said Somers’s opponent Walker is one of several young Republicans in the state who has the potential to win support amongst voters in the future.
“I don’t think Heather Somers has made much of a splash at all,” Rose said, despite Foley’s confidence in the Groton native in his speech.
Tim Herbst, who ran for state treasurer against incumbent Democrat Denise Nappier, is another potential “rising star” in the Connecticut Republican party, Rose said.
Herbst lost to Nappier in a tight contest, despite the fact that Democrats have historically taken the treasurer seat in landslide victories. Indeed, this year, by the time 97 percent of the precincts had reported polling results yesterday evening, Nappier led Herbst by less than 2,000 votes.
Rose attributed Herbst’s success to his youth, energy and smart campaigner, specifically citing his effective television ad strategy. Rose added that Herbst could lead the state GOP in resolving some of the party’s key problems.
Republican student Helder Toste ’16 disagreed with Rose, arguing the state GOP did not necessarily need “new blood” for Democratic policies to push voters toward Republicans.
“People are going to get tired of what the Democratic administration is offering,” Toste said. “And when that happens, the right [Republican] can rally the vote.”
Toste added that the closeness of the gubernatorial race indicated that Connecticut residents had responded enthusiastically to Foley’s platform. Somers is poised to lead the party, Toste said, because people know who she is from the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Somers has not made any official statement in the wake of Malloy’s victory.
Foley said he feels privileged to have been a part of the democratic process, but is eager to escape the pressure of coordinating a statewide campaign and spend more time at home, said Christopher Cooper, a spokesman for the candidate. The long hours on the campaign trail have been “taxing on [Foley’s] family,” Cooper added.
Cooper said Foley was “still a businessman” and would return to the private sector. Foley will focus his attention on his investment firm NTC Group, which he founded, had continued to oversee while on the campaign trail.
Prior to running in the 2010 and 2014 Connecticut gubernatorial elections, Foley served as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2006 to 2009.