“I Don’t Think He Needs To Answer That”

Mayoral candidate Kermit Carolina crashed the governor’s appearance at a polling station Tuesday, and Toni Harp stepped in to the governor’s defense.

The action took place Tuesday afternoon outside the Lincoln/Bassett School, the polling station for Newhallville’s Ward 20.

Malloy showed up there to support Harp, who’s one of four candidates—along Carolina, Justin Elicker, and Henry Fernandez—seeking the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary election.

Melissa Bailey PhotoMalloy has endorsed Harp, and reiterated his support for the longtime state senator Tuesday to a ring of reporters.

As Malloy spoke, a van drove by several times blasting Carolina’s theme song, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” so loudly that the governor had to stop talking. “That’s very effective,” Malloy quipped.

Carolina, the principal of Hillhouse High School, waited until Malloy was done taking reporters’ questions. Then he jumped in. (Click on the video to watch the exchange.)

“Why now?” Carolina asked. “We’ve had homelessness for a long time, and I didn’t see you. We’ve had poverty in this city, and we haven’t seen you. Why now? Is it because of your political interests?”

Harp stepped between the two men to protect Malloy.

“Why haven’t you come up to the state and actually advocated?” she shot back at Carolina. “I don’t think [Malloy] needs to answer that question.”

Malloy grabbed Harp’s left shoulder and pulled her back as she spoke.

Carolina continued confronting Malloy.

“We needed you here a long time ago,” Carolina told Malloy. “I hope you’re not here to serve your political interests.”

“I’m disappointed you wouldn’t allow the will of the people to make the decision,” instead of waiting until the Democratic primary to endorse a candidate,” Carolina added.

Malloy pledged to support the Democratic nominee in the general election.

“If you win this primary, I’m going to be for you,” he said.

Carolina continued to ask why the governor had to meddle in New Haven’s election prior to the primary.

“I happened to have a candidate in the race that I think would be superior,” Malloy said.

“Let me be very clear. If you win the primary as a Democratic candidate, I’m supporting you,” Malloy pledged.

In an earlier conversation with reporters, Malloy was asked if he’s getting involved in New Haven because New Haven Democrats delivered him such a large margin of votes in 2010. Campaign workers affiliated with Yale’s UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35 played a key role in electing Malloy. They’re backing Harp in this mayoral race.

“I think it’s important to have an effective mayor in office,” Malloy replied. He said he picks sides in a mayoral races when there are “great candidates” to support. 

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posted by: robn on September 10, 2013  5:17pm

Governor Malloy has lost my vote in the next Guv election and he may possibly have given it to a opponent if the opposing candidate isn’t a complete clown (as has been the case recently).

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 10, 2013  5:19pm

Let me shake your hand, Kermit. 
Extremely well-done intrusion into the ‘comfort zone’.

posted by: robn on September 10, 2013  5:20pm

One things really clear. If Toni only pulls a slight plurality instead of a clear majority (with this much money and this much firepower backing her) its egg on her face and the face of the entire Democratic party apparatus in Connecticut.

posted by: Billy on September 10, 2013  5:23pm

Good points, Kerm.  Thanks for stepping in!  Go back to Hartford and take care of business up there, Malloy!

posted by: frog on September 10, 2013  5:25pm

How weak Harp sounds!  She asks Carolina why he hasn’t been in Hartford to advocate for New Haven - well, isn’t that what our state senators and state reps are supposed to be doing?  She could have responded by pointing out her accomplishments on behalf of New Haven (what exactly are they?), but instead her knee-jerk reaction was to get defensive and go negative.  She would make a very weak mayor.

posted by: benedict on September 10, 2013  5:55pm

Oh dear. Hasn’t Carolina got better places to be and more important things to do on election day? Of course there’s a political calculation in Malloy’s backing Harp. But this is politics.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 10, 2013  6:07pm

The governor of the state of Connecticut was accused by a New Haven candidate for mayor of interfering with the will of the people in this election. The people of New haven will vote for the candidate of their choice. I know that many people think that most voters are stupid, but voters do think and vote for themselves for the most part. Organizations, newspapers, and elected officials do have a first amendment right to make political endorsements as they choose. There is no violation of any local, state or federal statute for the governor or any other elected official to endorse candidates.
Whenever an elected official does make an endorsement it does not follow logically that the will of the people will be subverted. That conclusion implies that the governor has superior power and influence over the judgment of the people of this state. This is not the case.
In the video clip the candidate made several accusations against the governor which were not true. The governor has visited New haven on numerous occasions and was recently in Newhallville. It is always very important when one grandstands to accuse anyone that they have their facts straight. Carolina should have done a fact check before he publicly falsely accused the governor of the state of Connecitcut. His actions were not wise.
Tonight the Democratic voters will speak on their own, thank you!

posted by: robn on September 10, 2013  6:09pm

Honestly every taxpayer and business owner in the State of Connecticut should be miffed at Gov Malloy. He’s endorsing the beneficiary of the states largest tax delinquent!

posted by: Wooster Squared on September 10, 2013  6:16pm

Much respect, Mr. Carolina. Malloy’s endorsement was nakedly political and completely inappropriate. You called him on it and all he did was stutter and stammer.

He’s lost my vote come election time.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 10, 2013  6:47pm

Dan Malloy Give me a Break.

Dannel Malloy Booed At Baseball Game (VIDEO)


And good old Dan Needs to answer this.

Malloy proposal cuts Medicaid, payments to working poor, ...


posted by: citoyen on September 10, 2013  6:54pm

If Kermit isn’t careful, he’s going to get a reputation as someone who’s willing to speak truth to power.

First DeStefano, now Malloy.

Guy’s got guts. Gotta admire him.

posted by: Hieronymous on September 10, 2013  7:44pm

I do admire Kerm somewhat for speaking [ ] to power, and I, too, bask in the schadenfreude when harp and her supporters look silly on camera. But it’s a stretch to say Kerm was speaking “truth.” I mean, it’s just not accurate to say we haven’t seen Malloy here since he’s been governor. I also don’t really see how it’s an affront for a democratic governor to endorse a democratic state senator in a primary where she’s the only candidate who’s vowed not to run again as an independent. Don’t get me wrong, the endorsement was purely political, but I just don’t see why we’d expect otherwise from a politician. A newspaper’s endorsement is somewhat meaningful. A politician’s endorsement, unless its truly unexpected or against his interests, is meaningless.

All that said, I appreciate how Kerm got such a rise out of Toni that the governor literally had to hold her back. You can see how frustrated she is that this hasn’t been the coronation she was promised. Sorry about that Toni…

posted by: JMS on September 10, 2013  7:53pm

I absolutely love this painfully awkward moment for Toni Harp. I am supporting Justin Elicker for my own reasons but I am also very happy to see Kermit Carolina in this election. It’s good for New Haven and a slap in the face to party machine politics.

posted by: Tom Burns on September 10, 2013  11:13pm

People—it’s over—you got crushed—Harp destroyed her opponents—there will be no different result in November—let go—-two of the other three candidates WERE serious options—and they lost big—BIG—-49% to less than half that for the runner-up—it’s over—but keep posting, that should make a difference—
Any of the three real candidates would have made a fine mayor—but the people have spoken—and I am one of those suburbanites who couldn’t vote and I donated my money to Keitazulu—but the people who live in New Haven did vote—so stop with the excuses and support whoever wins the general election—people vote for proven commodities—that’s why JD lasted so long—I am looking forward to working with whoever the mayor is—but a BIG congratulations has to go out to Ms. Harp on her huge victory today—Tom

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 11, 2013  12:28am

Thomas Alfred Paine,

I do not think most voters are stupid, but i do think many are egregiously uninformed, unengaged, and easily manipulated. 

I will make you a bet.

Let’s walked through New Haven neighborhoods together on Saturday and ask everyone we run into who won the primary last Tuesday.

The most frequent response will be ” What Primary?”
Toni Harp might come in second.  John Destafano, third.

You pick the wager. 
I hope you have a car. 

It needs to be a fair sample.

posted by: Gener on September 11, 2013  12:42am

Is it just me or does Toni Harp always sound like she’s crying when she speaks publicly?

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on September 11, 2013  1:08am

Why doesn’t the Governor of the state have to answer a question from one of his constitutes? Why does he need protection from a State Senator when questioned by his constitute?  The question Carolina asked Malloy was MORE than legitimate, and he NEEDED to answer it. 

The purest form of democracy is the right our citizens to address directly their elected officials.  There are too many people in this city who supported the quashing of this right under the present and soon to be past administration, which led to a virtual shut down of any dissent of the Mayor or his way of running this city.  That is NOT democracy.  That is autocratic rule that is bad for both the ruler and the ruled. 

Now that Ms. Harp has won the Democratic primary and is one step closer to the Mayor’s office, we should be very concerned that this practice and this perspective does not presist in a would be Harp administration. 

Furthermore, it is the job of our State Senators to go to Harfford to advocate for and speak to issues that affect the areas that they represent.  It is NOT the job of High School principles to do that.

posted by: NHInsider on September 11, 2013  5:16am

Carolina is out,thanks to all that came out yesterday to vote. He was in my opinion the worst possible candidate. His attack on Malloy (who I do not support)showed his utter lack of class, maturity and ability to lead.  While the questions were valid, the tactic was embarrassing to Carolina and his supporters. How he thought he could run a city while he hasn’t been able to run a high school is beyond me.

posted by: anonymous on September 11, 2013  6:57am

Tom, if you think the election is over then you need to talk to a history teacher.

posted by: LuvNewHaven on September 11, 2013  8:05am

Samuel T Ross-Lee nails it.

posted by: JMS on September 11, 2013  11:31am

While this is not always the case I agree 100% with Mr. Ross-Lee on this one. Forget about this particular election for the moment. Forget about what anyone thinks about any of these four particular primary candidates and their similarities or differences. What has become painfully clear to me is that when you have a system where one party (or one wing of a party) can hand pick a candidate (good, bad, noble, corrupt, tax cheat, criminal or otherwise) and virtually if not literally guarantee that they win an election via a well oiled, established & systematic process of financial & political machine support then I agree we are no longer looking at a democracy. It’s not democracy when a candidate gets rammed through with money and political machine power. It just isn’t. And it’s not like this is “news” or the first time this has happened. It’s just a wake up call for me personally having more recently started to pay closer attention to local politics and the real world ramifications and fallout from changes in leadership. Ask yourself if the same financial and machine support was put behind ANY random candidate would they win an election? I think the answer is yes. And what does this say about Toni Harp? To me it reinforces everything I thought about her since she announced her candidacy. She is a party pawn filling a spot simply because she can. I have no confidence that she has the best interests of the city at heart or even a clue what they are.

Last time around Mr. Kerekes sparked some interest and support for a “non establishment” run at the mayors office. I chose not to support him for a number of reasons but that is besides the point. The point is that city residents appear to be slowly warming to the idea of rocking the boat and/or overthrowing the status quo. I am hopeful that Justin Elicker can tap into this momentum and make a decent independent run this November. He’s an infinitely better & more electable candidate the Kerekes was & has my support.

posted by: Hieronymous on September 11, 2013  12:38pm

I fully agree with you JMS, but I do fear that the Kerekes comparisons aren’t totally apt. Yes, Justin is a way more credible candidate, so you’d think he could outperform Kerekes. But I think that a lot, if not most, of Kerekes support owed to this anti-DeStefano waive, which is not the same as an anti-establishment waive. My sense is that a lot of the folks who vehemently opposed JD did so for personal reasons, because they or their interests had been ignored by the “old” JD machine. Some substantial percentage of these folks, I think, actually support Harp because, in their perception, she does represent them or their interests. So add those people from the Kerekes camp, plus the establishment folks who just want to support the winner, whether its JD or Harp, and you’ve got a pretty sizeable bloc that a bunch of earnest good-government types are going to have a hard time toppling. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t try…

posted by: JMS on September 11, 2013  1:17pm


You are probably onto something there. Now that DeStefano is retiring there may be less momentum for anti-establishment sentiment. Kerekes (and his hyper active posting NHI mouthpiece whose name rhymes with Beaver) banked and capitalized on anti DeStefano sentiment and came close but failed. I am still hopeful that independent voters as well as prior Henry/Kermit supporting democrats will take a fresh look at Elicker as the first candidate I have seen running for office in New Haven in many years who does not appear to be (1) a machine byproduct or (2) completely full of hot air and rhetoric.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 11, 2013  6:34pm

I am thankful to Kerm for standing up for all of us. Even if you do not think he did, someday you will look back at this moment and realize he did.

Just as Wendy did…she stood up to him as well.

All politicians are our employees! We have the right to question them and I agree the question NEEDED to be answered!