March 20, 2006
By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez intends
to endorse Dannel P. Malloy for governor today, giving Malloy a
major ally among the third-largest bloc of delegates to the Democratic
convention, political sources said Sunday.
Malloy and John DeStefano Jr., rivals
for the Democratic nomination, each are staging events today to
generate buzz as the campaign approaches a milestone: the selection
DeStefano, the New Haven mayor who has been running for governor
for two years, will officially declare his candidacy today in New
Haven and Hartford.
Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, will
counter with a press conference at Hartford city hall with Perez,
who believes he can deliver a majority of the city's 54 delegates
Tuesday opens a seven-day period in
which Democrats will select 1,607 delegates to the state convention,
which convenes exactly two months from today in Hartford to endorse
a statewide ticket.
Winning the convention endorsement
will be only the penultimate step on the path to the Democratic
nomination. Each man is expected to easily win 15 percent of the
convention vote and qualify for an Aug. 8 primary.
The winner will face Republican Gov.
M. Jodi Rell, whose approval rating has not dropped below 70 percent
since she became governor upon the resignation of John G. Rowland
in July 2004.
"We think the convention is wide
open," said Chris Cooney, the manager of Malloy's campaign.
"We think the big cities are going
to be pretty evenly split," said Derek Slap, a DeStefano spokesman.
"This is an important week."
Nearly 30 percent of the delegates
will come from just 10 cities and large suburbs. DeStefano's hometown
of New Haven will send 69 delegates to the convention, Bridgeport
61, Hartford 54, Stamford 50, and Waterbury 41.
West Hartford, Norwalk, Hamden, New
Britain and West Haven round out the top 10, each with between 39
and 30 delegates.
Hartford's town committee will choose
its delegates Tuesday in what could be a contentious meeting. While
Perez will be with Malloy, DeStefano has the backing of four state
representatives from Hartford: Art Feltman, Minnie Gonzalez, Marie
Kirkley-Bey and Douglas McCrory.
Perez, who has tried to maintain cordial
relations with both Malloy and DeStefano, informed DeStefano of
his decision to endorse Malloy in a telephone call Sunday.
The Connecticut Hispanic Democratic
Caucus had endorsed Malloy.
The endorsement today by Perez is likely
to increase speculation in Hartford that Malloy is considering Perez
as his running mate. But one Perez ally said Sunday that no offer
has been made.
It was unclear if the prospect of taking
on the powerless position of lieutenant governor would appeal to
Perez, who is simultaneously serving as an activist mayor and chairman
of the city board of education.
DeStefano will be joined in Hartford
today by Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan, whose endorsement of DeStefano
weeks ago is expected to help the New Haven mayor win a substantial
portion of the delegates in Sullivan's hometown of West Hartford,
where Malloy also has significant support.
The DeStefano campaign also said Sunday
it has the endorsement of U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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