Part One of a Series on Dan Malloy
Bloggers from Connecticut Local Politics and My Left Nutmeg met with Mayor Dan Malloy of Stamford, the endorsed Democratic candidate for governor, on Saturday for an informal question-and-answer session.
Each of the four bloggers from this site who was at the meeting will be providing their take on part or all of the experience. These will not be long articles, as they are intended to allow you to get a basic idea of who Malloy is and what he's about. Today I'll be focusing on some of the horse-race aspects of the meeting, and on my general impressions of Malloy.
Malloy was quick to point to the fact that the Senate primary "is sucking all the air out" of the gubernatorial race. He believes that people are just now starting to pay attention to these races. He's basically looking to July as the real start of the gubernatorial primary: "July through August 8th will be a sprint," he said. Right now "we're in a bit of a lull."
Perhaps the most interesting part of the primary discussion was Malloy's defense of his progressive credentials. When asked about which way Lamont supporters might break, he said, "My hope is that they’ll take the progressive candidate. That’s me."
When civil unions first came up in 2003, he stated, municipal officials were invited to testify in favor of the idea. "Only one showed up. Me." He also said that he "would sign a marriage bill," is "against the death penalty" and, perhaps most importantly to many primary voters, is against the war.
"Where’s John [DeStefano]'s voice on the war?" he asked of his opponent. "I’ve had numerous debates with John. ... I don’t know what his position on the war is. Do you?" (Malloy also defended his membership in the centrist Democratic Leadership Council or DLC--see his remarks here.)
When asked why people ought to vote for him instead of DeStefano, Malloy said "The real difference is that I have a far better record than John [DeStefano] does." He pointed to Stamford's record on crime, ("...one of the 5 safest cities in America"), affordable housing and the economy as points in his favor. He also mentioned that his plan for universal health required the federal government "to pay its fair share" of the cost.
"We knew that he didn't have 804 [votes], despite what John [DeStefano] was saying," said Malloy, when asked about his convention victory. He went on to state that the DeStefano campaign "was trying to decieve people," and that "they didn't understand that we had solidified our support."
Malloy said that delegates began changing their votes after the 1st Congressional District was called, "because we won that district" and because they didn't like being decieved. He accused the DeStefano campaign of "typical politics," in which everyone is kept guessing. He referred to the fact that the DeStefano campaign waited until after the votes were done to announce Scott Slifka as their LG choice, and made allusions to the fact that "people in Litchfield" (presumably a reference to Audrey Blondin) were kept guessing. By contrast, the Malloy campaign announced Mary Glassman's selection before the convention began.
Malloy, when asked about the remarkably high popularity of Jodi Rell, said, "Everybody in the country thinks that public education needs to be reformed, but they think the public school they send their kids to is great. Think about it.
"I think people in Connecticut have suppressed their true feelings about the failure of government and have decided not to associate that with Jodi Rell because ...she's not John [Rowland] ...and she's a nice person. Therefore, we should like her. And I think that dynamic changes come September."
He repeated several times that the Rell administration has been "a failure."
"I spend more time worrying about what will happen if we don't change directions," said Malloy when asked what he thought a Connecticut following his governorship would be like.
"I can't wait to have a real debate with Jodi Rell," he said.
Malloy is a knowledgeable man with a knack for framing the debate. He's also a little more defensive and sharp than I expected, but that may just have been a certain intensity. This is a man who is desperate to wake Connecticut out of what he sees as a bout of self-pity and depression. He believes, strongly, that we can be better than what we are.
The proposal of his that I'm interested in the most has to do with the separation of education funding from municipal property taxes. I'll let someone else talk about this in more detail, but Malloy does at least recognize what may be one of our most serious problems.
Of the two, DeStefano seems like slightly more of a policy wonk than Malloy, but DeStefano has never really played to this strength. His proposals seem less detailed, less concrete and more vague than Malloy's--at least on the surface. There may be more to the DeStefano proposals that we don't see. Actually, there's a lot that we don't see about that campaign. Maybe that's the clearest distinction between the two.
Malloy also may be correct that people have somehow suppressed their feelings about the failure of Connecticut's government--simply because we don't expect much out of government to begin with. This is especially true following the Rowland scandals. I'm not quite convinced that Rell's popularity is due only to mass delusion or to her grandmotherly persona, but that's a discussion for September, not June.
More reactions, reporting and commentary on the Malloy meeting will appear over the next couple of days. Thanks to Dan Malloy and Brian Durand for proposing, setting up and attending this meeting.