U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-3) endorsed Mayor John DeStefano for governor today on the Capitol steps in Hartford, according to a press release from the DeStefano campaign. DeLauro became the first major Democrat to endorse a gubernatorial candidate, significantly improving DeStefano's chances of winning the nomination next year and all but confirming that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal out of the mix. DeLauro's action comes just days after Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz formally dropped out of the race.
DeLauro represents New Haven in Congress, so her endorsement of DeStefano seems logical. It's worth noting that Middletown, Susan Bysiewicz's hometown, is also in DeLauro's district. The timing of this announcement isn't coincidental.
Up to this point, most major Democratic figures have stayed out of the governor's race, waiting either for a frontrunner to emerge or for Richard Blumenthal to declare his intentions. DeLauro's action could indicate that DeStefano is very much becoming the frontrunner, and that at least some Democrats don't want to wait for Blumenthal any longer.
What does this mean for Dan Malloy? Perhaps not much. DeLauro is backing a favorite son: Fairfield County politicians may soon do the same. However, this may also be the beginning of the end for his campaign. If Democrats start to think that the chips are falling in DeStefano's favor, money and support for Malloy may start to dry up. Democrats would be thrilled to avoid a costly and possibly nasty primary next year.
The DeStefano press release states that "Today's endorsement will be the first among many key endorsements that will follow in the weeks to come." This could mean that several Democrats are already lined up behind DeStefano, or that the campaign hopes to secure their support soon.
Whatever the case may be, DeStefano is emerging as the man to beat. Malloy needs to move quickly to prove that he belongs in the same league as DeStefano, or else he'll start feeling pressure to bow out of the race entirely.