Last spring, John DeStefano Jr. swapped his gas-guzzling SUV for a hip hybrid-electric car. It was a small step toward cleaner air for New Haven, but a big leap forward for his campaign for governor.
DeStefano has long looked to Yale University and its pool of graduates for help running city hall and energizing his campaigns. He's counting on them again as he repackages himself as a progressive Democrat with higher ambitions.
Both these quotes illustrate one of DeStefano's major problems: no one yet knows what he stands for. Is he an enviromentalist liberal? A pragmatic administrator? A zealous reformer? An advocate for radical change?
We can also see from the story what looks to be the major theme of his campaign: He Turned New Haven Around:
DeStefano contrasted the city he inherited more than a decade ago with the city he presides over today: one of falling crime, recovering schools and a growing middle class.
He's going to have to sell that hard, and hope it doesn't backfire. Most Connecticut citizens have a negative view of New Haven. This is not solely New Haven's fault, our cities are generally viewed very negatively. Therefore, since New Haven is what DeStefano is running on, look for other Democrats to run right at him on the issue. It is very easy to play on people's fears of the city and reinforce the belief that it is dank, unsafe and unlivable.
DeStefano and his Yalies had better start working now to dispel that myth statewide.
Source: Martineau, Kim. "New Haven's DeStefano Taps Into Yale Activism." Hartford Courant 21 February 2005.