Marconi talks governor’s race: Decision hasn’t been made — yet

First Selectman Rudy Marconi delivers the annual state of the town address last Friday at Silver Spring Country Club. — Ivanha Paz photo

Governor Marconi?

Quite a few Ridgefielders were surprised when First Selectman Rudy Marconi responded to a reporter’s question by saying, well, yes, he might be interested in running for governor.

Peggy Marconi, for one.

The first selectman got a call at his office: “‘Rudolph, have you seen the front page?’ Whenever my wife calls me ‘Rudolph,’ it’s reason to be concerned,” he said Tuesday, May 2.

A one-column headline on the front page of the April 27 Ridgefield Press said: “Rudy for governor?” with a subhead, “Marconi doesn’t rule out bid for office.”

“I am thinking,” Marconi had told reporter Kate Czaplinski on her CT Pulse show broadcast by the HAN Network, which also publishes The Ridgefield Press.

“I don’t know if my wife, if she’s watching, would appreciate it, but Peggy is a supporter of  mine,” he said on air.

She wasn’t watching the April 26 broadcast. But she did see a story about it in the April 27 Press.

The potential candidate hadn’t been expecting his answer to make it from CT Pulse to the next day’s paper.

He hadn’t told his wife.

Because he’s not running for governor — not yet, anyway. He just answered a question.

Marconi was on Czaplinski’s show talking about the group StopPotCt.org and his concerns about possible legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Czaplinski knows Marconi from her years working at The Press, reporting on Ridgefield. Gov. Dannel Malloy had announced he wasn’t seeking another term, leaving the Democratic Party without a candidate — or an obvious front-runner.

And Marconi had looked at a gubernatorial run before. He’d formed an exploratory committee back in 2010.

So she asked. And he answered.

“She kind of caught me off guard about it. Geeze, can’t rule it out. But, Kate, I haven’t even talked to Peggy about it,” Marconi said.

Reception

Reaction has generally been positive among folks around town.

“It’s been interesting,” he said. “They’re saying: ‘Good luck, you’ve got our vote. We’d rather you stay here, but we understand.’”

He’s still talking as if he’s in the “can’t rule it out” stage.

“Well, it’s always a thought, but there’s definitely been no decision,” he said Tuesday. “There are a multitude of people who’ve thrown their hats into the ring, from Joe Ganim in Bridgeport, Kevin Lembo, our state controller, and the list goes on.”

“But there is also the question of money. It’s a very expensive decision. And you need statewide support.”

Has Marconi heard from people around the state?

“No,” he said.

Deficit

Given the whole situation in Hartford, isn’t the Connecticut governor’s office a politician’s nightmare?

“Why would you want to go there with such a deficit, now at $2.2 billion dollars?” Marconi suggested.

“It’s obviously a deficit that’s going to take a multi-year approach,” he said. “That’s how we look at things here in Ridgefield. We don’t do a one-year or two-year, we look well ahead, we have a five-year program. And we also look 10 and 15 years out.”

What makes him think he could take on all the difficulties besieging the state?

“Eighteen years of working for the people of Ridgefield, and having participated in a lot of what goes on in Hartford from a chief elected official’s perspective,” he said. “I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and a lot of understanding and a lot of experience.

“So when I look at other people in a position of throwing their hat into the ring, they really have no more experience than I do. They haven’t really done better at their job than I have here in Ridgefield. You have to think, Can I help the state of Connecticut?”

Purple

He’s a Democrat repeatedly re-elected in a town where Republicans are by far the larger party.

“I don’t think of myself as red or blue, I think of myself as purple,” Marconi said. “Maybe I could bring that to the state with some success?”

And there’s always that next hill to climb — sometimes it looks like the mountaintop.

“Would I like to do it? Yes,” Marconi said. “But there are a lot of variables to be weighed. The most important one, my marriage.”

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