Former President Bill Clinton told Democratic loyalists in a barely half-full Omni Ballroom Tuesday that they “have a job to do”—reelecting Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a tough rematch against Republican Tom Foley.
Malloy’s campaign sought to have Clinton’s star power, which still shines bright in New Haven, rub off on a campaign that’s behind in the polls and suffering from an apparent enthusiasm gap.
That gap was on display at the Omni event in downtown New Haven. Timed to launch the post-Labor Day launch of the main general-election campaign season, the event was billed as a “rally.” At times it felt more like the late-night post-dessert stale-coffee phase of a rubber-chicken dinner. The event violated the first rule of political event-staging: The campaign booked a room (already shrunken) that proved too big, not too small, for the several hundred politicos and Democrat diehards it could muster.
Speakers did try to ramp up the enthusiasm. Their message: Connecticut has slashed unemployment, added 60,000 new jobs, raised the minimum wage, passed the nation’s toughest gun-control law, boosted pre-K education, eliminated its deficit, run the country’s most successful Obamacare health care exchange, and lowered shootings and homicides in cities since Malloy’s 2010 election. Because Malloy made “tough choices.” Those tough choices may have turned off some voters. So the party faithful needs to work hard to turn out voters in November. (Foley lost to Malloy by just 6,404 votes in 2010.)
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal set the tone for that message in warm-up speeches.
“I am so pleased to see a capacity crowd today,” Murphy declared.
He must have been looking at this cluster at the front of the room ...
... not here ...
... or here. (A campaign spokesman later claimed that the event eventually reached a “capacity” of 300.)
“We have a great story to tell. You have to go out and tell it,” Murphy declared.
In his remarks, Malloy (pictured) contrasted his view of the state—safer, more compassionate, economically growing—with that of Foley, who has sought to seize on popular discontent over the state of the economy in general.
“This is a guy who prays for rain on a sunny day,” Malloy said of his opponent. “Connecticut is a great state. We’re going to prove that on election day.”
Trim since his move to a vegan diet, Clinton (pictured) in his keynote address emphasized the need to make sometimes unpopular choices—like raising taxes or passing gun-control laws—in order to govern well. Malloy has done that, he argued. Foley, like other Republicans nationally, is promising to cut taxes without specifying what services he will have to cut as a result, Clinton noted.
“I’ve been listening to this for 30 years. They talk tough,” Clinton said of Republican candidates. “But they govern soft. They tell voters you can eat all the candy you want, but you will never have to go to the dentist.”
Murphy, Blumenthal, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and Malloy himself all touted Clinton’s record as president in creating jobs and cutting unemployment. The point was to link Clinton’srecord with that of Malloy, who lacks Clinton’s personal charisma.
But when it comes to firing up Malloy’s Democratic base in 2014 in cities like New Haven, the governor’s campaign might conclude he could use the current president’s help after all as the election nears. If so, his campaign may have an easier time filling the hall.
This article omitted that the lack of enthusiasm may have had something to do with Malloy’s intrusion of himself into the mayor’s primary to endorse Harp. Prople have something called memory. Surely, a better strategic thinker might have told himself there’s no reason not to wait until the general—as Blumenthal did. Malloy might have used his memory to recall that New Haven was vital to his margin of victory, so why look for trouble?
Had Malloy not had made a primary endorsement, I would have been there with my $50 in hand. I would have loved to have seen a president at that reasonable price. But Malloy made it a price too steep to pay.
But all I have to do is show up… In order to get tenure in CT. Malloy may have half-heartedly apologized for SAYING that. He never said he doesn’t believe that.
Teachers are voting for Pelto this cycle.
posted by: Mmjjbb on September 2, 2014 4:19pm
Many voters (teachers, parents, grandparents, etc.) will NOT vote for Malloy due to his education reforms. Including but not limited to: the implementation of the CCSS, the extensive testing/ assessment of students (including SBAC tests), the collection of student data without parental concent and without informing them about the changes in the FERPA regulations, the funding of charter schools which takes funds away from public schools, the fact that charter schools lack accountablility and do not have to meet the same standards as public schools, etc. No matter who comes to CT to try and convince us of how great Malloy has been .... we know the truth. His policies are destroying public education in CT!!
posted by: Threefifths on September 2, 2014 4:31pm
I wonder if Bill Clinton will teach Dan Malloy how to play the Saxophone.This is what help Bill Clinton get the Black vote and get call the first the Black President.
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on September 3, 2014 8:36am
I do not call myself a Democrat, could not care less about Bill Clinton visiting New Haven, and despise the Common Core implementation. However, it is a very serious, dangerous mistake to not vote for Malloy this November. As TheMadcap said, “wait until you become acquainted with governor Foley.” As a Wisconsin native, I can assure you that Connecticut is in incalculably better hands with Malloy. Anyone who will not be supporting Malloy due to his own support of Harp is simply out to lunch, and I can only assume is of the demographic that will appear to benefit from a Foley administration.
Those who are not keen on Malloy due to ed reform: I believe it is a major mistake to try to bring about change on this issue from the top down, particularly by reducing the gubernatorial election to one issue. The number one way to resist Common Core right now is to organize and get parents to opt out. Turnout for Malloy and Opt Out of the tests may get the governor’s ear in his second term, but there’s no way he’s sticking his neck out on it during the election (unlike, say, Bobby Jindal). That’s the unfortunate reality.
posted by: robn on September 3, 2014 8:55am
Malloy participated in the Harp propaganda steamroller and interfered with a local primary. Not looking forward to Foley as governor but the governors actions have consequences and its reasonable for New Haven voters to deny Malloy their vote if they’re upset with him. I’m staying home on election day.
posted by: Gatekeeper on September 3, 2014 9:39am
There was a very low turnout at the rally yesterday for Malloy with Bill Clinton. First of all they wanted to charge $50 a person which kept people from coming out. Last minute they were calling people to come out for free .Rallies are always free. The mistake that happened was that Malloy got involved in the last year primary. It left a bad taste in mouth of the Democratic Committee. He offended 45% of the voters in New Haven . As the Democrat on principle alone I cannot vote for Malloy. I will vote for the rest of the Democratic slate this November. Imagine charging us $50 for free rally and all we got was a glass of water we need a new Governor. We need a new Governor that can give us more than a glass of water.
posted by: TheMadcap on September 3, 2014 9:47am
It’s frankly pretty childish to be so upset with Malloy for endorsing his friend in a primary election over our preferred candidate in said primary that’d you stay home during an election over it.
posted by: A.T. on September 3, 2014 10:33am
Life long Democratic voter and donor here. I can’t bring myself to vote R. in the upcoming gubernatorial race, but I made up my mind to not support Malloy when he showed up in New Haven to interfere with the mayoral primary. I fully understand the argument that he is the lesser of two evils. However, it doesn’t motivate me to donate or vote. He may be able to win without the support of nearly half of New Haven’s Dems. He is the one who made the decision to take that risk last year. Or alternatively, he and his staff simply do not understand New Haven and its politics.
posted by: Pantagruel on September 3, 2014 10:56am
You’re giving me too much credit. My opposition to Malloy is narrow-minded and parochial—based solely on the mayor’s primary.
I’m a yellow dog Democrat who never has and never will vote Republican. I will likely show up for the election and not x-in for governor. If this election were of national consequence, the Senate, I’d affirmatively vote Democrat.
Unions are the reason we have a middle class.
Guns are worth controlling whatever the price. But I agree federal control is needed to prevent cross border purchases.
Pre-k is worth the debt. The evidence is clear it’s the single best thing to do to improve educational and life outcomes.
And Obamacare is a boffo success. We are at unprecedented coverage levels. The costs are bending downward and the federal deficit will benefit. Most important, thousands of lives will be saved.
posted by: robn on September 3, 2014 6:49pm
The middle class was created by WWI and WWII, which stimulated production and infrastructure investment, gave the US considerable economic control over western Europe, considerable control over world petroleum resources and, to this day, the ability to run huge deficits and debt because global petroleum resources are traded with US dollars (petrodollars).
Can anyone explain how Malloy “interfered” with the New Haven primary? Obviously I remember he publicly supported Harp’s candidacy, but was there anything shadier than that? I’m not the governor’s biggest fan for a few reasons, but a politician supporting the party-line candidate in a major election doesn’t scream scandal to me.
posted by: robn on September 4, 2014 2:55pm
No primary candidate is “party line” until they’ve won the primary. Malloy was out of bounds making a preemptive endorsement in a mayoral primary. This is very unusual and frowned upon because the whole point of a primary is to let local parties choose their candidate.
I meant “party line” to mean “most in keeping with the mainstream Democrat platform.” And besides, being that there was no Republican or third party candidates, the primary was the de facto general election. Granted, Elicker ended up running as an independent, but I still don’t see the outrage here. I say this as a supporter of Elicker and Pelto.
posted by: robn on September 4, 2014 4:02pm
There was no indication that Toni Harp was a “more mainstream” Democrat. What WAS clear was that she was a fallback candidate for the suburban unions when they couldn’t get Judge Keyes to run, and it was clear that this power structure was leveraging Malloy to make a preemptive endorsement. Again, it’s highly unusual for higher officials to endorse for lower offices in primaries; it’s more usual (and part of the Democrat ethos) for support and endorsements to come from lower officials and local party members. That’s why I laugh when suburban union apologists portray the last election as grassroots because it was really just AstroTurf.
posted by: Eddie on September 4, 2014 6:26pm
I still don’t understand all of the fuss about Malloy endorsing Harp. Robn you are simply wrong when you say that there was no indication that Toni Harp was the more mainstream Democrat. Way back on March 28, 2013, Elicker stated that he would not respect the primary results and would run against the party if he lost. He specifically stated that this was to give unaffiliated and Republican voters more of a voice and say in the election. On March 28, he stated,
In sharp contrast, you will recall that Toni pledged that she would not run, if she lost the primary. Malloy’s endorsement came August 14, over 4 months after Elicker declared his intention to run against the Democrats in the event of a primary loss.
I don’t see why there is a moral obligation for anyone who supports the democratic party to remain neutral in a race where one candidate has declared his intention to run against the democratic party in the general election. Justin made a strategic choice to distance himself from the democratic party very early in the election. This probably wasn’t a bad strategy on his part, but one can hardly expect support or even neutrality from leaders in the democratic party afterwards.
The Harp campaign was a top-down externally outsider driven campaign. Elickers was true grassroots with financial and volunteer support from New Haveners, not outsiders. I consider Harps campaign to be far less Democratic but obviously you don’t.
posted by: connecticutcontrarian on September 5, 2014 3:31am
One wonders if the faux outrage over Malloy stumping for a candidate in a New Haven mayoral race would’ve existed had Elicker been his candidate of choice. Probably not.
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on September 5, 2014 12:22pm
@ robn (& others planning to sit out this gubernatorial election):
I hope you reconsider. Clearly, you have a role to play in inspiring others to consider things from different perspectives and take positions. What is best for our families, our cities, and our state? While I can understand how many of us disagree with politicians for their stances on particular issues or actions in particular instances, that disagreement has to be weighed against the full list of priorities and accomplishments.
There is no doubt in my mind that the $10.10 minimum wage has a much bigger impact on people’s lives than Malloy stumping for Harp. Malloy has strongly held his stance on gun control against the staunchly pro-gun Republican advocates. Malloy reached an agreement between the state and unions that was the opposite of Scott Walker’s approach, which tore Wisconsin apart and radically polarized the state. Malloy did not (entirely) sacrifice education (particularly early childhood education) in his approach to the budget (although I believe he is severely misguided on education reform). He did not reject federal money to be invested in Connecticut’s infrastructure the way Scott Walker turned down $810 million in federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail (I believe some of which was re-channeled to CT). Malloy signed into law anti-discrimination legislation protecting transgender rights.
Is Dan Malloy solely responsible for all of these things? Of course not. But it’s a question of what is possible when he is governor vs. what is possible when Foley is governor. I absolutely understand sticking to principles and ideals. But we also have to ask ourselves when our principled idealism may result in real choices that can have negative—potentially devastating—effects for others in our communities. As we all know, not everyone is so lucky as to be able to hold out based on principles and ideals, and many have to fight tooth-and-nail just to stay off the chopping block.
posted by: robn on September 10, 2014 10:46am
The suburban union driven propaganda steamroller flattened New Haven’s political choice in the last mayoral election. They shouldn’t be surprised that Democrats would rather light a match and burn the house down themselves instead of being flattened again.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 10, 2014 11:09am
MAN! Now that is quote of the week!! Well said…standing up and clapping!