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OP-ED | Malloy Stronger than Polls Suggest

by Susan Bigelow | Apr 12, 2013 8:14am
(13) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, Opinion

Susan Bigelow A poll dropped this week suggesting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is “in trouble” for re-election next year. So what else is new?

Gov. Malloy’s been in constant danger of being booted out of office ever since he proposed his first budget, maybe even before. His approval ratings have hovered in the 40s in just about every poll.

There are a lot of reasons why, from a stubbornly lackluster economy to higher taxes to Malloy’s often outspoken positions on a whole range of issues from education reform to the death penalty to gun control. Here in Connecticut, we often don’t like governors who are too active. The last person to sit in Malloy’s chair did little beyond projecting a certain grandmotherly concern about the state, and her approval never dipped below 60 percent.

This latest poll, then, was less about Malloy’s re-election chances than the still-forming Republican primary field. The poll was commissioned by Tom Foley, who lost in 2010, and unsurprisingly it shows Foley with both great name recognition and the best shot at beating Malloy. This was met with a lot of eye-rolling from both Democrats and Republicans. Potential primary opponent Mayor Mark Boughton of Danbury passed the poll off as fakery on his Twitter account, saying “News Flash: Dewey beats Truman in latest poll paid for by the Dewey for Pres. Comm.”

Former top Malloy aide Roy Occhiogrosso, whose Twitter feed lately is mostly barbs aimed at Foley, taunted him by saying the poll said he should answer whether he’d sign the gun bill or not.

A poll commissioned by you showing you doing awesome does seem like a clumsy way to try and intimidate the rest of the field. It hasn’t really been Foley’s month to make friends or be subtle; he recently delivered vehement testimony in favor of an ethics bill that would have made it illegal for lawmakers and their families to earn more than $1,000 from employers who benefit from state contracts.

His points weren’t bad at all, there are stories of perfectly legal ways some legislators make money that make me want to tear my hair out, but he managed to infuriate legislators on both sides of the aisle. This is a lousy way to start a working relationship with people he hopes to be dealing with on a daily basis come 2015.

Still, both the testimony and the poll did one good thing for Foley; they got everyone talking about him. In the end, that’s more useful than dodging Twitter barbs or enduring a panel of defensive legislators. In a fight for position against a weak incumbent, any publicity is good.

But how weak is Malloy, really? On the surface, it doesn’t look good for him. He has a hard time connecting with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party; many are still furious with him for his anti-union actions during the 2011 budget fight, and for embracing education reforms many see as deeply regressive and problematic. Most Republicans harbor a strong dislike for him and his policies, as well, so the governor doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends. He may find himself in deeper trouble after the significant pain the current budget will likely inflict on cities and towns.

And yet, Malloy is probably in better shape than he gets credit for from the pundits, his potential opponents, and everyone else in Connecticut. Here’s a guy who governs with a bottomless pool of energy, who has probably signed more progressive legislation into law than anyone in the country, who is a regular guest on nationally-televised morning shows like Morning Joe, and who just scored a major coup by signing a landmark gun-control bill into law. He’s managed to make the legislature seem like a model of functionality compared to the sleepy, stubborn body of the later Rell years, and he’s been impressive as he helmed the state through a series of disasters from Hurricane Irene to Sandy Hook.

I’ve been disappointed in the governor over decisions he’s made, but, admirably, he doesn’t seem to care what I or anyone else thinks of him.

The big danger for the governor is that he’s not a great campaigner. But luckily for him, the quality of his opposition isn’t all that great, yet. If Foley, who narrowly lost to Malloy during the most GOP-leaning year since 1994, is the best the Republicans can come up with, they’re in trouble. The Republicans, Foley included, still don’t have much of a vision for leading the state beyond boilerplate statements about lowering taxes and making the state “business-friendly.”

They’ll have to do a lot better than that if they want to beat Dannel Malloy.

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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(13) Comments

posted by: Linda12 | April 12, 2013  4:24pm

I will never vote for Malloy again. And many of my colleagues feel the same way. He only won by 6,000 votes due to a ballot “problem” in Bridgeport. He as alienated almost every constituency group possible. And the endorsement of a union does NOT represent the rank and file workers, actually it motivates us to vote the opposite way.

Malloy is one and done. He is all about himself and his reputation. He could give a rats booty about the rest of us. Let’s start the countdown clock now! Buh bye Dannel!

posted by: Joebigjoe | April 13, 2013  10:09am

The way he spoke about gun manufacturers in the state the other day shows him to just be a sick egotistical person. He would never talk that way if he was still mayor but feels emboldened now to insult hard working blue collar people that would never do those jobs at any price if the goal of their employer was to get guns into the hands of every crazy person out there.

posted by: NoNonsense2013 | April 13, 2013  11:21am

I can’t bring myself to vote for Foley, so if he ends up being Malloy’s opponent, I suppose I’ll vote for Malloy (reluctantly, if I vote for Governor at all). But a wise friend in politics once told me that if you are making everybody unhappy, you must be doing something right.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 13, 2013  12:29pm


I’m disappointed here Susan. I expected a “10 Reasons why I am voting for Ned Lamont” column. 

How will a GOP Governor ever get elected if the Progressives back Malloy? 

Surely the progs are ready to splinter the Party once again. The time has come!

posted by: friedrich5 | April 13, 2013  2:36pm

The correct title should be :” Malloy is weaker than the polls suggest”

posted by: CitizenCT | April 13, 2013  2:41pm

Thanks to Malloy, CT is the highest taxed state in the nation.  Time for a change.

posted by: JH_1 | April 13, 2013  3:53pm

I don’t like the way Malloy has approached everything he’s done.  He’s very much a “my way or the highway” type.  I didn’t vite for him before and I won’t vote him next time.  The only think I like about what he’s done so far is his storm / power outage response.  That’s been pretty solid.

Love him or hate him, the one thing you have to admit is that Malloy now has something he didn’t have a few months ago - national exposure.  Before the Newtown tragedy, he was a no name governor from a small state in the northeast.  Now, he’s rubbing elbows with Obama and is practically a BFF with Biden. 

Should he lose in November 2014, no big deal for him, he’ll get offered a job in the Obama administration by early 2015.

posted by: Nutmeg87 | April 13, 2013  7:22pm

Really…  seems like Malloy is looking for a job with Obama…

Nothing on Morning Joe, or Gun Control does anything for Connecticut… 

Just looking to reach a larger audience outside CT, where we are losing jobs, raising taxes, urban crime is continually ramping up (how many headlines can you count - even after signing Gun Bill - about gun violence/deaths in Stratford, NHaven, Hartford, Bridgeport, etc…)...

This guys spends $Millions of CT dollars (that we have to borrow) to get jobs here, while we’re going to lose thousands more from Gun Mfgs leaving…  Oh… How about the Federal Sequesters to our Defense Industry (GE, UTC, etc…) and Obamacare has already vanquished Pfizer, Clairol, Bristol Meyers out of the state…


posted by: Fisherman | April 14, 2013  9:36am

Malloy’s main problem is that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder; a pattern of behavior characterized by an exaggerated sense of self-importance. The voters (and his fellow legislators!) have all become far too familiar with Mr. Malloy’s personality traits, and for that reason, Malloy will not be able to recover from the downhill spiral which began the day he took office.
Will State Democrats run him again?  Certainly; unless the National Democratic Party offers him a vice-presidential position first (something his narcissistic personality would certainly enjoy!).  But either way, a ticket which contains Malloy will not be successful.  Here’s why: voters in Connecticut would never return him for a second term (now that they know him); and voters in other states have seen the degraded state of affairs that Malloy has caused in our state. Nationally, voters would vote for “anybody but Malloy”.

posted by: Historian | April 14, 2013  12:15pm

Rell ” projecting a certain grandmotherly concern about the state, and her approval never dipped below 60 percent”. If she had run again she would have won - Why ?because she did not shake the apple cart.  Ct does not like politicians who shake the apple cart.

posted by: Reasonable | April 14, 2013  4:12pm

SusanBigelow:  You must know that “the early-bird gets the worm”—as you certainly opened a can of worms” when you exposed Gov. Dannel “Don’t call me Dan” Malloy to the literary flock.
It’s hard to believe that an intelligent Susan Bigelow, and wife—would be making a mistake by voting for Malloy.  However, voters already made a mistake by putting a life-time. big-spending politician in the governor’s chair over a proven successful businessman—who used his own money fo his election campaign.  With Connecticut’s majority big-city public benefits recipient crowd voters—deciding election results—- it’s almost impossible for a quality candidate like Tom Foley to win in Connecticut, and Susan Bigelow knows it. Perhaps Tom Foley should donate his money to charity rather than wasting his money trying to get the minority, working taxpaying state voters to win a election.
We can expect our Democratic-controlled deficit spending orgy to continue in the state that no longer is led by our former trademark Connecticut Yankee businessmen—“but heartless, and careless politicians like Dannel Patrick Malloy.”

posted by: joemanc | April 16, 2013  11:47am

Very weak article Susan. Hardly any arguments that back up your headline.

And how was the governor’s election 2+ years ago the most GOP-leaning year since ‘94? We had a Republican governor in this state from the 90’s until 2+ years ago!

posted by: Reasonable | April 17, 2013  11:39am

JoeManc:  You are absolutely correct. “Gov. Malloy took us from the frying pan—into the fire!” Dannel is giving us the examples of “fire in hell—on earth!”  How can voters be so naive that they elected such a callous politician ro lead our state to disaster?”