Democrat may have broken the 20-year jinx in a squeaker, but supporters shouldn't celebrate yet
November 06, 2010
Hear that collective sigh of relief? It comes from Connecticut's Democratic legislators and a host of unionized state workers happy that their party's two-decades-long absence from the governor's office seems — after a wild three days of ballot-counting in Bridgeport — to have come to an end with the election of Dan Malloy.
The ordeal is over, that is, if Republican Tom Foley doesn't challenge the "official, not certified" numbers that on Friday evening showed Mr. Malloy ahead by slightly over 5,600 votes statewide out of more than 1.1 million votes cast. Mr. Foley had held an 8,409-vote lead before Bridgeport's tally was made official on Friday.
But not so fast, majority-party lawmakers and state employees, if you think all's well and the next four years are going to be a picnic at taxpayers' expense.
Mr. Malloy, who owes his narrow victory in large part to union-driven get-out-the-vote efforts and turnout-producing appearances in cities by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton in the campaign's final days, is too smart a politician and too good a public servant to let that happen.
There can be no business as usual. The state's perilous fiscal condition and its barren record of producing jobs won't allow it.
Warning signs abound that a new ethos of sacrifice and austerity is needed in the corridors of power.
Surely Mr. Malloy can read them. He's an experienced campaigner, having run for governor in the Democratic primary in 2006 after serving many years as a successful mayor of Stamford. This newspaper endorsed him for governor on the basis of that record and his superior knowledge of state issues.
Yet he barely beat Mr. Foley, who was a virtual unknown to the people of Connecticut. Mr. Foley's vote strength in suburbs and small towns stands as a blinking neon reminder to government and those who run it: Slow down, slim down.
There are other reasons Mr. Malloy's campaign seemed to stall before its last-second burst to victory: One was a stand against capital punishment that he had to defend in the midst of a sensational murder trial. Another was whether he would call for tax increases to help balance the budget. A third was his combative campaign style.
But the main reason the election was so close was the fear by many voters that Mr. Malloy wouldn't be tough enough in challenging the legislature and the unions to shrink the size and cost of government.
We think he has the grit to do it. Now he has to show the skeptics.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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