After Gov. Dannel Malloy announced at a surprise press conference on Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2018, Democratic and Republican leaders across Connecticut began to reflect on Malloy’s six years in office.
First elected governor in 2010, Malloy has led the state in times of tragedy and catastrophe, from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The state has faced a near-constant budget crisis under his administration. And since 2015, Malloy has served as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
For Democratic Senate President Pro-Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, the governor will be remembered for his courage and willingness to take on some of the greatest challenges confronting the state.
“Gov. Malloy assumed the office during some of the most challenging times in our state’s history,” Looney said. “Gov. Malloy has always pursued policies that he genuinely believed were in the best interest of Connecticut and its residents.”
During his two terms in the gubernatorial office, Malloy gained recognition from his peers in the Democratic Party through his legislative efforts on gun control, tax credit for low-income families, among other policies. Looney lauded Malloy as a champion for criminal justice reform, as the governor worked to reduce penalty on crimes like possessing small amounts of marijuana and to instituting prison re-entry programs. Under his administration, Connecticut repealed the death penalty and reduced its inmate population by around 5,000, according to Looney.
Mayor Toni Harp said that in her collaboration with the governor’s office, Malloy’s experience as “a former big-city mayor” in Stamford allowed him to appreciate the regional responsibilities Connecticut cities have even thought these jurisdictions might not have the resources to fulfill these duties. She said Malloy provided reliable assistance to the Elm City throughout his tenure, such as his support for public education initiatives.
In addition to directing state legislation, said U. S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Malloy maintained a constant presence in the national’s capital, securing an “unprecedented amount” of federal funds for Connecticut.
“On a personal note, words can’t convey the debt we all owe Dan for the steady, calming hand he laid on our state’s shoulder in the hours, days and weeks following the tragedy in Sandy Hook,” Murphy said in a press statement.
Even Senate Republican President Pro-Tempore Len Fasano, R-North Haven, usually quick to criticize Malloy, struck a tone of gratitude in his statement on the governor’s decision not to seek a third term.
“I want to thank Gov. Malloy for his many years of service to the state of Connecticut and wish him tremendous success in all future endeavors,” he said. “While we may not always see eye to eye, I respect him greatly for his tireless work ethic and dedication to Connecticut.”
Fasano acknowledged that Malloy has dealt with difficult circumstances, both economic and otherwise, and said he looks forward to working with the governor for the remainder of his term.
Chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party J.R. Romano, R-New Haven, however, did not pull any punches. For Romano, Malloy’s 29 percent approval rating tells the story of his governorship.
“When you’re governor … you have to make really tough decisions,” he said. “And every step of the way he’s made the wrong decisions.”
In particular, Romano pointed to the state’s slow economic growth and to General Electric’s decision to relocate from Connecticut to Massachusetts as Malloy’s failure as governor.
While he acknowledged Connecticut’s recent economic struggles, Looney said Malloy’s administration should not take the blame for this stagnation. He added that Malloy created jobs by striking several key deals with major corporations like Sikorsky and United Technologies.
Before his governorship, Malloy served as the mayor of Stamford from 1995 to 2009.