The two most powerful Republicans in the state General Assembly, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield and House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk, are contemplating runs for governor next year.
Both will wait until the spring to make their final decisions, but they believe that Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budgets and economic strategies have hurt the state.
"I think the state's better days are ahead of us," said Cafero, 55, who is in his 11th term in the House of Representatives. "We were the envy of so many states, but now, we're going in a reverse direction."
Cafero said Friday that when Malloy took office in 2011, he offered a vision for the state's future that he has failed to achieve.
"Then he started down a policy road that has sent us backward," Cafero said. "There's a possibility that if I decide to run, I could leave the state in a better direction.
"We just can't keep going on like this. We're going down the exact same path that we always have and, unfortunately, achieving the same results, which are negative for the state of Connecticut."
McKinney, 48, of Fairfield, said that he has been asked by many people from throughout the state to challenge Malloy's attempt for a second, four-year term.
"I am seriously considering running for governor in 2014," McKinney said in a phone interview. "A lot of people have encouraged me to look at it."
He said Malloy's tax and economic development policies seem to be failing as the state faces a multi-billion-dollar deficit in the two-year budget that starts July 1.
"We have to look at the direction our state is going in," said McKinney, whose father, Stewart B. McKinney, was the state's 4th District congressman from January 1971 until his death in May 1987. "Two years ago, we had the largest tax increase in state history and we still have a $2.5 billion deficit and unemployment over the national average. I don't think we can sustain the path we're on."
McKinney criticized Malloy's announcement Thursday that he wants to borrow up to $1.8 billion for an expansion of the UConn campuses and curriculum in Storrs and Stamford.
"We have the highest per-capita debt in the country and we're the worst place to retire," McKinney said. "When you raise sales and property taxes on the elderly, it makes the state less attractive.
"And in the realm of economic development, we have one man picking the winners. He's giving hundreds of millions of dollars to big corporations and billionaires at the expense of small and medium-sized businesses."