Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy stepped into the muddy waters of New Haven politics yesterday when his bid for governor received the endorsement of former New Haven Mayor John Daniels.
Daniels, mayor of the city from 1990 until 1993, said his decision to endorse Malloy, who is challenging current New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. for the Democratic nomination for governor, was influenced by Malloy’s successful management of Stamford. Daniels contrasted Malloy’s success with what he described as the failings of New Haven under DeStefano’s leadership, particularly with regard to crime control and educational achievement. DeStefano said Daniels’ support for Malloy did not concern him, noting Daniels’ long history of endorsing his opponents.
“I’m prepared to go to all of the 169 towns of Connecticut to talk about his character, to talk about his record,” Daniels said. “When Dan Malloy becomes governor, there’s going to be a different attitude in Connecticut. He’s going to clean up … and make us proud to be citizens of this great state.”
DeStefano said he was not concerned by Malloy’s plans to campaign in New Haven, citing his own re-election this November with the support of over 75 percent of the city’s voters.
“John Daniels consistently and endlessly runs against me and has been my lucky charm because anyone he endorses I defeat,” DeStefano said.
Before becoming New Haven’s mayor, Daniels served as a state senator from 1980 to 1990. He was defeated in 2001 by Rep. Toni Walker in an attempt to win a seat as a state representative.
Malloy said this endorsement represents the beginning of his campaign’s effort to bolster its presence in New Haven. Although this is his first major endorsement by a New Haven political figure, Malloy marched in a Martin Luther King Day Parade in New Haven this month and said he has begun reaching out to city business interests in town.
“We can wage a good ground campaign here,” Malloy said. “Endorsements in and of themselves don’t mean that much, but they tell a story of momentum.”
Daniels praised Malloy’s policies on affordable housing, as well as his crime-prevention programs. Under Malloy’s stewardship, crime in Stamford decreased 60 percent, Daniels said, in part because Malloy instituted a community policing program, similar to one Daniels established in New Haven.
“Stamford has control of its streets. In New Haven, we do not have control of our streets,” Daniels said. “Community-based policing no longer exists in New Haven.”
Daniels said DeStefano lost the support of minorities in New Haven and statewide because of his support for Ward 29 Alderman Carl Goldfield’s campaign for the presidency of the Board of Aldermen. Goldfield ran against the incumbent president, Ward 5 Alderman Jorge Perez, whom he ultimately defeated this January. Daniels said his own support for Malloy was influenced in part by Perez’s defeat.
“If they see that Hispanics and blacks in the mayor’s own city are not supporting him, that’s a problem,” Daniels said.
Over the weekend, Malloy also received the endorsement of the 24-member Connecticut Hispanic Democratic Caucus, of which Perez is a member. Yolanda Castillo, a Democrat from Hartford and chair of the caucus, said the group had interviewed both Malloy and DeStefano and had been impressed by Malloy’s support for affordable housing and educational initiatives in Stamford.
Shonu Gandhi ’03, DeStefano’s campaign director, said she thinks Daniels’ support for Malloy was motivated more by his personal relationship with DeStefano than by his support for Malloy’s policies.
“We don’t think it means anything,” she said. “Mayor Daniels hasn’t won an election in a long time. This is a personal problem that Mayor Daniels has with Mayor DeStefano that he has had for a long time.”
Gandhi also said DeStefano has been reaching out to minority communities in the state’s urban areas in addition to attending house meetings and speaking at churches in towns including Hartford, Stamford and New Britain.
A Malloy campaign staffer said Malloy, who already has several Yale Law School students working on his campaign, hopes to visit Yale soon to address undergraduates.