It must be frustrating to be either Dan Malloy or John DeStefano. The race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination has been going on for something like two years, now, and the media consensus that has developed boils down to “Flip a coin.” Democrats who go to the polls on August 8th will almost certainly know whether they’re going to vote for Lieberman or Lamont. They’ve probably known for months. The choice there is pretty clear. It’s less so with DeStefano and Malloy.
Each man offers a universal health care scheme. Each promises a better transportation plan, and property tax relief. Each says he wants to turn Connecticut’s lackluster economy around, and each points to the record in his city as proof that he can do just that.
But Dan Malloy has done a better job of communicating his message, and this is a major part of what makes him the superior candidate.
Malloy is the better public speaker: he tends to favor concise bluntness over the more wordy style of his rival. DeStefano likes to take time to explain his positions and the theories behind them, a noble effort which often gets bogged down or wanders off onto other paths.
Malloy’s proposals also seem a little more concrete than DeStefano’s. Malloy’s plans are usually richly detailed and often more realistic than DeStefano’s, which seem sparse by comparison. Malloy’s ideas are also more business-friendly, which is desperately important to a state that is losing jobs. Lastly, Malloy’s plan to uncouple property taxes from education seems a lot clearer than DeStefano’s, and it will take clear leadership to accomplish that worthy goal. The unintended consequences of policy have often been an afterthought in the gubernatorial race, but Malloy has often spoken to the practice of measuring results and examining policy enacted. It is clear that under Malloy, the overarching question of "Can it work better?" would be a guiding principle.
John DeStefano is a good man with a lot of very bright ideas, but many of his plans seem to lack a good dose of realism. One of the major problems with DeStefano’s proposals is an over-reliance on taxing the wealthy, and, in some cases, a lack of specific plans for financing his proposals. His plan to establish pay equity between men and women would result in the creation of a huge, unmanageable bureaucracy that would poke into the books and practices of every single business in Connecticut. His willingness to let the details of funding some of his ideas be taken care of later is also unsettling.
DeStefano also seems to make poor political decisions. For example, his comment that Jodi Rell’s plan for combating urban violence was like that of a 1950s Mississippi governor was absolutely over-the-top, and his strange willingness to roll back things like mandatory hospital stays post-childbirth and insurance coverage for birth control as part of his health care plan has left him desperately trying to reclaim the votes of women. Also, his unwillingness to return campaign money raised from contractors should campaign finance reform pass in time for the 2006 election was foolish, at best.
Malloy, by contrast, is a far more credible candidate who seems less prone to missteps. His record in Stamford is slightly more impressive than DeStefano’s in New Haven, although it’s difficult to compare the two cities. Stamford is one of the safest cities in the nation, as Malloy is fond of saying. New Haven has also made great strides under DeStefano, but Stamford’s example is the better one.
Most importantly to Democrats, Malloy has a better shot at giving Jodi Rell a run for her money in November. Rell is aware of this: it’s why she picked a running mate from Malloy’s city of Stamford. A contest between DeStefano and Rell would end up being more about DeStefano than Rell’s record or Connecticut’s future, which would be a shame. A race between Malloy and Rell would still offer clear distinctions, as well as a lively debate over the future of the state.
There are still problems with Malloy. His lack of union support may cost him later on, and his name recognition is extremely poor, even now. But he is the better choice to face Gov. Rell in November. We endorse Dan Malloy for the Democratic nomination for governor.