A national election analysis group Friday changed its rating of Connecticut's race for governor, moving it to the most competitive category on the vulnerability spectrum.
Greenwich Republican Tom Foley is running against Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a rematch of 2010, the state's closest gubernatorial race in over half a century.
The Cook Political Report, which analyzes congressional, gubernatorial, and presidential races, updated Connecticut's rating Friday from "Lean Democrat" to "Toss Up" on a spectrum that rates the likelihood of a seat switching parties in the upcoming elections. "Strong," "Likely," and "Lean" are used to indicate level of vulnerability, and "Toss Up" is reserved for "the most competitive races" in which "either party has a good chance of winning."
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Foley lost to Malloy by less than 6,500 votes in 2010, and polling this year shows them in another dead heat.
Cook political analyst Jennifer Duffy said in a post to Twitter that the switch "has nothing to do with [the political environment] or any GOP wave" but instead is because "voters are unhappy [with] incumbents."
In a quote distributed by the Republican Governors Association, Duffy said, "Despite Connecticut's solid blue hue, Malloy has had a difficult first term and is not all that popular with voters."
"He inherited a $3.5 billion budget shortfall that he closed by raising taxes, including the sales tax. Although he claimed a budget surplus this year, it turned out to be premature," Duffy said.
Republicans say they will make the economy a central focus of this year's campaign, and state GOP chairman Jerry Labriola has described November's election as a "referendum on the economy."
Foley has projected confidence that he can knock Malloy out of office. "I think the governor…thinks he's likely to lose this election," he said at a press conference Thursday. "He can't talk about his record…I guess he gave it his best shot but it hasn't worked."
Malloy has acknowledged the race is a dead heat, and says he is ready to defend his record on the economy and attack Foley on a variety of issues including gun control.
The Cook Political Report has assigned the toss-up rating to three other races for seats currently held by a Democratic governor: Arkansas, Hawaii, and Illinois. Six races for gubernatorial seats held by a Republican are rated "toss-up."