FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former ambassador to Ireland, is rising to the top of the field of Republican candidates for governor, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
In a poll of registered Republican voters, Foley leads with 36 percent if the primary were held today. His nearest competitor is Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, with 11 percent. Foley and Boughton were GOP running mates in 2010, losing narrowly to current Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti follows with 6 percent, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield with 3 percent, Joseph Visconti of West Hartford with 3 percent and state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton with 2 percent, the poll said. But a whopping 35 percent said they didn't know who would get their vote. (Boucher also represents New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston and Westport.)
"Foley dominates other Republicans vying for the nomination, who have little statewide recognition," said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University poll. "One potential problem for Foley is if he gets bloodied during the primary process. For Malloy, perhaps the biggest worry is that he's never been able to get over 50 percent in job approval -- a danger sign for any incumbent."
In a head-to-head match-up of Foley and Malloy, the race is a dead heat with 42 percent each, the poll said.
"Haven't we seen this movie before? A potential rematch of Gov. Dannel Malloy vs Tom Foley couldn't get any closer," said Schwartz.
If one-to-one match-ups, Malloy would top McKinney, 43 percent vs. 37 percent, the poll said. Malloy would beat Boughton and Lauretti 44 percent to 35 percent.
Also, Malloy would edge both Lauretti and Boucher by 45 percent to 34 percent.
Despite his second place showing in the poll, Boughton's campaign was pleased and said he is well positioned.
"Boughton is emerging as the alternative to Foley even though he gets only 11 percent in the poll," the campaign said in a statement. "The key is a full 35 percent of GOP voters are undecided."
McKinney blasted the low numbers for Malloy and Foley in the poll.
"The first poll of the gubernatorial campaign shows that Connecticut voters firmly believe it is time for a change from the failed policies of Governor Dan Malloy," McKinney said in a statement. "It is equally clear, however, that voters do not think Tom Foley is the answer for our ailing economy.
"Republican voters should be very concerned to see that despite spending $10 million to achieve statewide name recognition, Ambassador Foley is viewed negatively by more than 20 percent of those polled, even before the Malloy machine throws what is sure to be its first well-financed punch."