If Bill Curry wins the Connecticut governorship this year, he says he does not even want his name to be the focus of the newspaper articles written about him. Instead, he wants them to be about the victory of his issues.
Curry, the former state comptroller and current Democratic gubernatorial candidate — who barely lost the 1998 race for governor to John G. Rowland — stopped in at Dwight Hall Monday night to chat with about 30 students in an event sponsored by the Yale College Democrats.
With his platform on campaign finance reform, environmental protection and health care, Curry continually circled back to his commitment to strengthening the Democratic Party and its policies. Above all, he kept the atmosphere light and relaxed, cracking jokes about his career, Rowland and President George W. Bush.
“I came to believe that if you didn’t vote Democratic, you couldn’t get buried in the Catholic Church,” said Curry of his childhood in the North End of Hartford, where his father managed the campaign of Spike Johnson, Hartford’s first black mayor.
Curry criticized Rowland and said he is doing the worst job of any governor in New England, if not the country. Citing scandals in Bridgeport and Waterbury, as well as the collapse of Enron and its effects on Connecticut, Curry accused Rowland of running a corrupt state government.
“The middle class has lost 5 percent of its income under Rowland,” Curry said. “Rowland’s not driving the car. He’s a passenger by nature.”
Curry also skewered Bush’s performance as governor of Texas.
“Bush was the worst thing to happen to Texas since the Dust Bowl,” he said.
Curry said he derived his position on health care from an analysis of other nations’ less expensive approaches. He said he discovered that 18 percent of what Americans pay for health care is for paperwork, a percentage much higher than in other countries.
“Japan has 3 percent, Germany 9 percent,” Curry said.
Curry’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination this year is state Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen. The winner will go on to face Rowland in the general election.
Yale College Dems President Samantha Jay ’04 said she expected this year’s gubernatorial race to be a close one. Though the Dems have not yet officially picked a candidate to endorse, Jay said she liked Curry’s focus on policy.
“Curry definitely made an excellent impression,” she said.
But College Dems Vice-President Brad Kahn ’04 said he liked Curry better than Jepsen.
“I’ve met both the candidates and I think [Curry’s] much more dynamic,” Kahn said.
Whoever wins the primary, Kahn stressed the importance of getting involved.
“Its about time we had a Democratic governor in the state,” Kahn said.
College Dems Campaign Coordinator Pete Ortner ’05 is responsible for bringing in candidates for the various state races. He said he hopes to get the word out to Yalies that state politics are important, even for non-residents.
“People don’t realize the extent to which Connecticut politics will effect us,” Ortner said. “Having BIll Curry come speak to us was an important event.”