We are under no illusions about the level of interest Yale students have in tomorrow’s gubernatorial election — between incumbent Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican private equity manager and former ambassador Tom Foley. The candidates, locked in a rematch after Malloy bested Foley by a slim margin in 2010, are in a dead heat. The election is one of the closest in the country.
Still, we’ll spare readers a lengthy plea for civic engagement. If you know the basics of the race, please vote.
If you do vote, we urge you to vote for Malloy, the candidate we believe is better positioned to lead this state and help people who need it most.
Neither candidate has us dashing to the polls. Malloy, despite a fair number of accomplishments, frequently fails to articulate a convincing vision for the state, much less to tie his achievements to the values of everyday citizens. He does not make us feel especially hopeful about Connecticut’s future. Foley is even less charismatic.
Because we don’t have a candidate whose persona or rhetoric makes us excited about the political process, we instead rely solely on the candidates’ records and vision for the state.
Here, the incumbent is miles ahead of his opponent, who has relied on half-truths about Malloy’s record and insisted that his success in the private sector qualifies him to lead a state.
Malloy is still cleaning up the mess he inherited from Jodi Rell and her predecessors in the governor’s office — a $3.7-billion budget deficit. Foley has taken aim at Malloy’s decision in 2011 to sign into law the steepest tax hike in Connecticut’s history. At the same time, a more progressive income tax structure ensured Connecticut’s richest taxpayers shouldered a greater share of this burden.
Because of the tax hike — balanced by efforts to cut spending and win concessions from public sector unions — the state’s budget is now on more firm footing. Foley has not explained how the state would absorb his proposed tax cuts without cutting services.
Malloy, on the other hand, has pursued legislation that improves the lives of people in Connecticut. As the first governor to answer President Obama’s call for a national $10.10 minimum wage, Malloy was correct to insist that no one who works full-time should live in poverty. By fighting for mandatory sick pay, he ensured that workers in this state are treated with dignity.
Job growth has also improved during Malloy’s time in office. Though unemployment still stands at 6.4 percent, that figure is down considerably from 7.7 percent in September of last year.
Malloy demonstrated the same good judgment in responding to one of the most horrific incidents in this state’s history: the massacre of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
In the wake of unthinkable violence, Malloy worked with state legislators to pass legislation banning the sale of large-capacity magazines and criminalizing the possession of additional weapons under the state’s assault weapons ban. If anything, the law didn’t go far enough; a dangerous grandfather clause enabled people who already had these weapons in their possession to keep them.
But instead of vowing to strengthen the bare-bones legislation, Foley has said he would sign a repeal if given the chance. Predictably, he has clung to mental health as the root of gun violence, invoking a familiar mantra of gun enthusiasts: that guns don’t kill people, people do.
But it isn’t just on gun control that Foley is out of touch. In a debate last month, he expressed doubt about humans’ contribution to climate change. This wasn’t an error of word choice in the heat of a debate, but rather a blunt refusal of scientific consensus.
On schools, Malloy’s focus on early childhood education has been productive, especially in light of mounting evidence about the importance of this stage of children’s lives. Under his leadership, 1,000 additional pre-K seats were opened in low-income districts, and plans have been put in place to implement universal access to pre-K by 2019.
Jobs and the economy remain Malloy’s most pressing concerns. In a second term, which we hope he secures tomorrow, the governor should move beyond superficial reforms and address some of the structural reasons Connecticut lags behind the country in economic recovery: inequality, stagnation and the relationship between the urban core and the suburbs. It’s a job for which Malloy has been preparing for two decades.