Malloy Launches Town Hall Tour, But Not Campaign
(Updated 2:15 p.m.) He’s not officially running for re-election, but Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not concerned about his party’s chances in November.
There are no Democratic candidates for governor at the moment, but “I’m not aware of any Democrat complaining right now,” Malloy said last week after meeting with a group of farmers.
Republican candidates have been lining up since last September to challenge Malloy, who has yet to form a candidate committee to start raising money.
At a press conference last week Malloy said he wants to get as late into the year as possible without making a decision about his re-election because he wants to avoid talking about politics as long as possible.
He then went on to joke that if he declared his candidacy then he fears reporters won’t show up at his press conferences on public policy and governing issues.
He said Republicans have a job to do and that’s to “beat each other up” to determine which ones move on to the primary.
“I have a job to do. I’ve got be governor and I want to do that job as long as I can,” Malloy said.
On Tuesday, Malloy said he doesn’t expect to be a candidate until the legislative session is over on May 7.
The nominating convention for the Connecticut Democratic Party will be held at the Convention Center in Hartford on Friday, May 16. That gives Malloy nine days to launch his campaign, or his party would have nine days to find another candidate.
The wall Malloy wants to build to keep the political away from governing may begin to crumble this week as he prepares for his first town hall forum Wednesday in Norwalk.
After his first budget proposal in 2011, Malloy decided to take the proposal on the road by hosting 17 town hall forums across the state. The last one was held in Middletown in April before the legislature finalized its budget proposal and long before he was able to reach a deal with the state’s labor unions.
That year, after the town hall forums, Malloy decided to modify his proposal to scrap the $500 property tax credit for middle income earners, instead reducing it to $300.
In 2012, his town hall forums turned from the subject of the budget to his 163-page education reform package. That year, angry teachers crowded school auditoriums and cafeterias to tell Malloy he was wrong when he said, “Basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years. Do that, and tenure is yours.”
Just last month, Malloy decoupled the implementation of the new teacher evaluation system from implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
“With respect to the politics of it, I’m really concerned that our teachers have the tools that they need to be successful in the classroom and folks are appropriately trained with respect to the Common Core,” Malloy told reporters in January. “Is it political to hear people? You might categorize it as that. But the reality is that’s the appropriate way to handle these things.”
In 2013, Malloy didn’t announce his budget tour until early March and ended up holding nine community forums. A Malloy spokesman said the number of town hall-style forums the governor will do this year is still unknown.
Malloy, who enjoys the verbal jousting with taxpayers, said he’s looking forward to what his staff is calling “community forums.”
“Being out there, accessible, and talking directly with people is fundamental to open government and helps us become more effective at serving the people we were elected to represent,” Malloy said in a press release. “I really do enjoy talking with our state’s residents directly and hearing their opinions on how we can make decisions that will best improve Connecticut.”
George Gallo, chief of staff for the House Republicans, said he understands what Malloy is trying to do by creating the illusion that he’s governing and not campaigning. He said that illusion may hold up if he stayed in his office and carried out his daily duties quietly, but now he is holding town hall forums. He is definitely “pushing the envelope,” Gallo said.
Gallo pointed out that there’s a moratorium on the mail legislators can share with their constituents and other rules that spell out what is and is not considered campaigning. Even though Malloy has consistently hosted these community forums over the past three years, “eyebrows are going to be raised,” Gallo said.
This year, doing these town hall forums and expecting people to suspend their sense of belief that Malloy is not a candidate will be difficult, he said.
“It’s an election year. Everything is political,” Gallo added.
The first community forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 at Norwalk City Hall, 125 East Ave.