HARTFORD — Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley won the cross-endorsement of the Independent Party of Connecticut on Tuesday night, securing a second spot on the November ballot.
The backing comes a week after the Greenwich businessman secured the Republican nomination by defeating Senate Minority Leader John McKinney in a primary.
Foley appeared at a caucus meeting of the Independent Party in Watertown. His campaign confirmed the endorsement. Foley had faced competition for the third party’s backing from Trinity College Professor John Mertens, who argues the Independent Party, which gained its statewide ballot status in 2008, should not cross-endorse a major party candidate.
“The Independent Party needs to nominate a member of the Independent Party,” Mertens said. “We need to nominate one of our own and give the voters a third alternative to the same old baloney.”
The party has been in a state of flux. There has been a multi-year legal dispute over who actually controls the organization, making it unclear whether the two factions would agree Tuesday night on who to endorse as the party’s candidate for governor in 2014.
Mike Telesca, of Waterbury, who was elected chairman in 2012, said he hoped the Danbury faction, which also claims to have a chairman, would abide by the decision of the party members on Tuesday. According to the Secretary of the State’s Office, approximately 17,000 people have registered as members of the Independent Party, making it the state’s largest political party.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy already received the cross-endorsement of the Working Families Party, ensuring his name will appear on the ballot twice.
Malloy’s endorsement from the group back in 2010 helped him defeat Foley. That year, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh ran as the Independent Party’s candidate and some Republicans believe he drew votes away from Foley.
Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, contends an endorsement from her group is more than just appearing twice on the ballot. She said the organization has 22,000 online members and 110,000 people associated with affiliated organizations, including labor groups, that can lend on-the-ground support to its candidates.