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OP-ED | GOP Hits Malloy, Bitter 2014 Guaranteed

by Susan Bigelow | Oct 19, 2012 8:16am
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Opinion

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is under fire as the election season draws to a close, and he’s not even on the ballot. Republicans are gleefully rolling out mailers and videos tying Malloy to Democratic incumbents, taking advantage of voter discontent and Malloy’s dismal approval ratings.

Even if the attacks don’t lead to much in the way of gains in the legislature, they’re clearly the opening salvo of what promises to be a hard-fought 2014 campaign.

Bashing Gov. Malloy is a strategy that must have been a no-brainer for the lackluster state Republican Party. They finally have a Democrat in the governor’s mansion to target and have dusted off the old argument about rubber stamps and one-party government. Better yet, the governor’s approval ratings have consistently been in the dirt since the moment he unveiled his uncomfortable but necessary budget cut and tax increase package in 2011. So why not pounce? Maybe the GOP can capitalize on voters’ sour mood and dislike for the governor, and take a few seats away from vulnerable Democrats.

However, as Senate President Donald Williams pointed out in an AP article about the attacks this week, state representative elections tend to turn on local concerns instead of bigger issues like one-party rule and the governor’s agenda. The suddenly far-tighter-than-predicted presidential race also has sucked a lot of the air out of the room when it comes to the attention voters have to spare for politics, so attacks against a governor who isn’t even up for re-election this year may not resonate.

In fact, it rarely matters who the occupant of the governor’s mansion is when it comes to state legislative races. Malloy’s processor, the popular Gov. M. Jodi Rell, had no coattails. Despite a few vague efforts to help Republican candidates, her party couldn’t make any inroads against Democrats during her tenure. Gov. John G. Rowland campaigned hard to keep his party’s narrow control of the state senate during the height of his popularity, but Democrats took control of the chamber in the 1996 elections.

That leads us to 2014. Democrats have lots to worry about, given that Malloy’s win in 2010 was razor-thin and he’s only gotten less popular since. Republicans are sure to wage a spirited campaign against the governor. Big names are already being murmured, like Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, 2010 nominee former Ambassador Tom Foley, and Minority Leader Larry Cafero, among others. If this year’s attacks are any indication, it’ll be another rough campaign with plenty of mud-slinging. Malloy may find himself sent packing back to Stamford sooner rather than later. It’s a Connecticut tradition, after all, to punish politicians who take risks and drag us, kicking and screaming, into the future. Former Gov. Lowell Weicker, who prudently decided against a re-election bid in 1994, is probably the best example.

Malloy has arguably accomplished far more in his less than two years in office than his predecessor, Gov. Rell, managed in her six, but that hasn’t helped his popularity at all. His major problem is that he keeps trying to actually fix the state instead of patting us on the head and reassuring us that things will surely get better someday. His first year was a whirlwind of enacted progressive legislation, tax raises and service cuts, an ugly budget fight that recast the state’s relationship with its employees, and a high-profile but controversial jobs package. His second year featured a bitter education reform fight with teachers’ unions. Connecticut is actually changing under Malloy — look to the construction going on at Jackson Labs and the New Britain busway corridor for evidence of that.

Malloy also understands the ins and outs of how government really works, perhaps better than any governor in recent memory. And yet, the ineffective but genial Rell always had sky-high approval while Malloy languishes under 50 percent. Rell sailed to an easy victory in her 2006 bid for a full term, while Malloy faces a far bleaker 2014. It has to be galling.

Still, Malloy’s in the job he wants, for now. When a student at a recent youth-in-politics forum at the University of Connecticut asked him if he were planning on seeking any kind of federal office, he immediately and unequivocally answered, “Nope.” He has two years left. He should make the most of it while he can.

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

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(9) Comments

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | October 20, 2012  3:25pm

GoatBoyPHD

Malloy’s out in 2014 if the GOP can find a fresh face. Rowland could run and win (is he allowed to)?

posted by: SalRomano | October 20, 2012  8:56pm

SusanBigelow:  You have a “long-range-crystal-ball!”

posted by: Noteworthy | October 21, 2012  1:06am

Talk about writing with rose colored glasses - it’s almost breathtaking. Malloy cut the budget? No. He increased spending by more than 5% - a Billion dollars more than the previous year while enacting a history making tax increase that was supposed to bring us a balanced budget and financial security. We ended up with a $140 million deficit and more to come this year. Unemployment has climbed no diminished and he’s paying almost a quarter million per job to the well heeled for jobs they were going to create anyway. There are reasons why Malloy is unpopular and that’s before we get the to taxpayer abuse found at the new BOR, the silly security expense at Malloy’s manse, the sense of arrogance or the bully tactics imposed on taxpayers, education reform or the presidents of the community colleges.

As for one party rule, if it’s as great as Don Williams thinks it is, then why are we in chronic despair? Unemployment rampant and no job growth for a generation? Balanced budget? no. Educational gains perhaps at the K-12 level and college level? no.

posted by: justsayin | October 21, 2012  7:12am

His ratings reflect his performance. Remind me again about Budget cuts? Added revenue and still in the red… Subsidized projects with tax and fed dollars is not progress its is another subsidy or expense.

posted by: Linda12 | October 21, 2012  8:33am

He knows the ins and outs…that’s for sure…especially if you do what he wants and you are one of his cronies…special vacation deals, brand new SUV, the option to “work” remotely. He can’t give our money away fast enough. Don’t be fooled by the Ed. Reform issue. This is about Dannel making a name for himself. He memorized the six talking points given to him by Pryor, with no prior teaching experience, and repeated them ad nauseum. He even said teaching to the test was fine with him if it improved test scores. And he is our reform leader? As if his three boys attended a test prep factory…it is always fun to experiment on the poor children. Malloy is a disaster and the recent BOR debacle is only the tip of the iceberg.  He has alienated every possible interest group in CT: state employees (except for his inner circle), higher ed faculty, teachers, state police, conservatives, liquor store owners, taxpayers and we all have families and friends who support us. He will NEVER be reelected in this state. One and done for Danny.

posted by: JamesBronsdon | October 22, 2012  1:49pm

Could it be that Rell was “ineffective” in some small measure because she had a Democratic legislature for all six years?  Presumably, there was not a lot of common ground on which to make progress.  Malloy, on the other hand, has the “benefit” of a Democratic legislature, and to the extent they have made “progress,” the public does not seem so enthralled. One party rule is good in that it helps us more clearly see which policies are effective and which are not. I think we’re currently in the not effective neighborhood. Others seem to be noticing the same.

posted by: SalRomano | October 22, 2012  4:45pm

Fred:  Malloy and the Democratic legislature—“is like the blind leading the blind!” 
BLIND SPENDERS!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS | October 23, 2012  9:03pm

43,0000 teachers is throw under the bus.State police and state workers throw under the bus.He will be one term!!!

posted by: SalRomano | October 24, 2012  12:25pm

In a partial one-term history in office, Go. Dannel Patrick Malloy has done more damage to our state’s economy, with his massive taxation and wild spending, than any other Governor in Connecticut’s history.  “In the old wild west days,” Malloy would have been “tarred and feathered and run out of the state—long ago. Unfortunately, with his equally clueless Democratic General Assembly—the bleeding won’t stop in the state—until voters start using some intelligence and start voting these political imposters of being public servents—out of office.  We did it to ourselves by voting this motley bunch into office - to promote misleading Connecticut Democratic prosperity.  Shame on us! Malloy now escapes his bungled performance by taking numerous taxpayer-paid national and international junkets “to excape the heat he has created in office!”