Dannel P. Malloy

Position
Governor
District
Statewide
Social media
Previous Positions
Assistant District Attorney Brooklyn, 1980 to 1984; Mayor of Stamford, 1995 to 2009
Education
B.A., Boston College; J.D., Boston College
Public Financing
Yes
Dannel P. Malloy, the 88th governor of Connecticut, is the first Democrat to win the office since William A. O'Neill in 1986. Malloy, who inherited a stagnant economy, a crippling unfunded pension liability and the nation's largest per capita deficit, balanced his first budget with labor concessions and a $1.8 billion tax increase that was the second-largest in state history, adjusted for inflation.

Malloy, who turned 62 on July 21, 2017, has struggled to win broad support for his tax and economic policies, falling short of a 50-percent job approval rating in every Quinnipiac University poll and plunging to 24 percent in June 2016, perhaps foreshadowing his decision in 2017 not to seek a third term in 2018. His partnership with the legislature's Democratic majority hit a low ebb in 2016 at about the same time as lawmakers voted to override three vetoes, the first overrides in Malloy's tenure.

For the rest of his tenure, Malloy faces the challenge of crafting budgets in a state with an underperforming economy, a massive unfunded pension liability and a legislature under the clear control of no one. The majority in the House is 79-72, meaning the defection of just four Democrats can block a budget. The Senate is evenly divided. Democrats's only edge is the ability of Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to break ties as the presiding officer.

Aside from chronic fiscal challenges, Malloy has faced a string of natural disasters, as well as one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history — the murders of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012. At his urging, the General Assembly adopted one of the nation's strictest gun control laws in response to Sandy Hook, broadening background checks to purchase firearms and banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines and military-style weapons, such as the popular AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.

He has been a staunch ally of President Obama, who campaigned in Connecticut for Malloy and invited the governor to sit with the first lady during the president's final State of the Union on Jan. 12, 2016 and to attend a holiday reception at the White House in Obama's final weeks in office. Connecticut had one of the more successful implementations of the Affordable Care Act, and the state was the first to pass a law setting its minimum wage at $10.10, the goal Obama set for the federal minimum. Malloy also helped win passage of the first state law in the nation mandating paid sick days in private employment.

Crime has steadily dropped during his administration, exceeding a national trend. With Malloy's support, his correction commissioner, Scott Semple, has won national notice for shifting the prison system's focus from punishment to rehabilitation in a time when the inmate population has fallen, in part due to Malloy's elimination of incarceration as a penalty for minor drug crimes. Malloy signed into law the repeal of the death penalty for future crimes. In 2015, he won passage of his "Second Chance Society" initiative, part of a national effort to reduce the United States' high rate of incarceration. He pressed unsuccessfully for further criminal justice reforms in 2016 that, among other things, would have eased the way for young first offenders to expunge their records. A proposal to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility from 18 to 21 drew the attention of the White House and national reformers, but the General Assembly declined to bring the bill and a bail reform measure to a vote, fearing a voter backlash in an election year. Malloy says he once again will seek reforms to reduce the number of pre-trial detainees held only because they cannot afford modest bail.

He has invested heavily in bioscience, gambling it will be a cornerstone of long-term economic growth. His policies have stabilized the state's vital aerospace industry for the next generation. He negotiated a tax deal intended to deepen the ties to Connecticut of its largest private employer, the conglomerate United Technologies Corp., whose subsidiaries include Pratt & Whitney Aircraft. Manufacturing has a relatively bright outlook as airlines are buying Pratt & Whitney engines, Electric Boat has a steady stream of submarine orders and Sikorsky Aircraft has committed to build its next generation of helicopters Stratford, induced by incentives offered by Malloy with near-unanimous support of the General Assembly. But the Connecticut economy has continued to lag much of the rest of the nation, even as it has added back most of the jobs lost in the recession of 2008.

To combat the highest electric rates in the continental U.S., Malloy created the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. To the consternation of some environmentalists, he made price a bigger consideration in the purchase of renewable energy. Prices remain the highest in the lower 48.

Facing another deficit, Malloy broke a 2014 campaign pledge by signing a budget in June 2015 that raised taxes by an average of $650 million in each year of the fiscal biennium. The increase was higher until some were rolled back in a special session after a revolt by some leading corporate citizens, led by General Electric's threat to relocate its headquarters from Fairfield. The threat generated a round of negative national press attention about the state's business climate and pushed the governor's approval rating to 32 percent. In January 2016, GE announced it would leave its 1970s-era in suburban Fairfield for Boston, another high-cost business environment, but one considered a high-tech hub fitting with the company's new focus.

In the same budget, he achieved a start on what he hopes will be Connecticut's long-term commitment to transportation infrastructure: a half-percent of the sales tax was dedicated to the special transportation fund. But his transportation vision as his tenure winds down is more a statement of goals and needs than a funded plan of action.

Malloy, who was the mayor of Stamford for 14 years, was elected governor on his second try. In 2006, he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, a fortunate loss that spared Malloy from facing one of the most popular Connecticut governors since the advent of polling, Republican M. Jodi Rell.

In 2010, he came from behind in the Democratic primary to defeat the better-financed Ned Lamont, the Greenwich businessman who had become the darling of the political left in 2006 by defeating Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in a Democratic primary fought primarily over the war in Iraq. Malloy's 6,404-vote general-election victory over Republican Tom Foley was the closest Connecticut gubernatorial race in 56 years.

In 2010 Malloy was the first statewide candidate to qualify for public financing of his campaign under the Citizens' Election Program. In the general election, he faced self-funded candidate Foley. In 2014, both Malloy and Foley qualified for public financing, but both also were supported by Super PACs whose independent expenditures rivaled what was spent by the campaigns.

Malloy's reputation among campaign-finance reformers dimmed as the Connecticut Democratic Party sought to thwart an investigation of its use of state contractor contributions to support Malloy's re-election. Fighting an investigative subpoena, the party argued that federal law preempted the authority of the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Without admitting wrongdoing, the party agreed in June 2016 to settle the case with a record payment of $325,000. Federal authorities opened and closed an investigation into the fundraising without charges.

The governor's re-election victory in 2014 relied on a sophisticated get-out-the-vote effort modeled after Obama's two successful presidential campaigns. Malloy began the year with only 44 percent of Connecticut voters favoring his re-election, but he prevailed against a national GOP tide, helped by the Democrats' strong organization and what was generally regarded as a lackluster campaign by Foley. One measure of how poorly Foley ran: Republicans picked up seats in both chambers of the General Assembly, despite the failure of the top of the ticket.

The 2014 win raised Malloy's national profile, as has his leadership roles in the Democratic Governors Association. He was chairman of DGA during the 2016 presidential cycle and into 2017, giving him a national platform to criticize President Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Malloy endorsed Hillary Clinton in June 2015 and made two campaign visits to New Hampshire and one to Iowa on her behalf before the New Year. But the governor's sharp criticism of Bernie Sanders' vote for a bill protecting gun manufacturers from liability suits became a factor in the presidential race. Sanders' campaign unsuccessfully demanded that Malloy be removed as co-chair of the platform committee at the Democratic National Convention.

His decision to welcome a Syrian refugee family to the New Haven area after Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and future vice president, opposed their planned relocation to his state also raised Malloy's profile nationally in November 2015. In recognition for his support of refugee resettlement, The John F. Kennedy Library chose him for its 2016 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

As mayor of Stamford, Malloy capitalized on the city's proximity to New York, attracting major financial companies and thousands of new jobs. He also claims credit for bringing more housing to downtown Stamford and establishing a system of pre-kindergarten education. A successful record as the mayor of a resurgent Fairfield County city was of limited value to his statewide campaigns. Stamford is outside the Hartford-New Haven television market that reaches most Connecticut voters, especially its Democrats.

Malloy has demonstrated resilience in the face of political and personal difficulties. His political career survived allegations that he showed favoritism as mayor to contractors who did work on his house or made contributions to his campaigns. In 2005, the chief state's attorney's office exonerated him after a 17-month investigation, though the issue reappeared in a blistering negative ad campaign against him in the primary. As he launched his second campaign, his middle son's long struggle with mental illness became an issue after an arrest on drug and robbery charges. His son pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence. He has since finished college and begun a career, an experience that some allies suspect have contributed to Malloy's belief in the virtue of second chances.

Malloy's progressive credentials include his early and unequivocal support of gay marriage and transgender rights and his opposition to the death penalty. His appointments to the state Supreme Court included its first openly gay justice, Andrew McDonald, who had been Malloy's general counsel. Malloy opened the Executive Residence for the wedding of his criminal justice advisor, Michael P. Lawlor, who is gay. The governor ordered his staff to fly the rainbow flag of the gay-pride movement above the residence when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied an array of federal benefits to married same-sex couples.

His stump speech in 2010 had a sharper focus than in 2006 on his personal narrative, the story of a young boy who struggled with severe learning disabilities and was physically uncoordinated. He grew up in Stamford, the youngest of eight children.

"A lot of people thought I was stupid. My mother didn't think that," Malloy said. "I was a good communicator orally, although I couldn't read or write very well."

Malloy still struggles with the written word, preferring to process information orally. Despite the handicap, he graduated from Boston College with honors, then earned a law degree from Boston College Law School. He often cites his own story in explaining his passion for increasing funding for early childhood education.

Malloy is married to Cathy Malloy, who is executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. They are the parents of three sons.
Election history
Malloy was elected to an open seat in 2010, succeeding Republican M. Jodi Rell. In both 2010 and 2014, Malloy won three-way races in which his Republican opponent was Tom Foley. Malloy won with 49.5 percent in 2010 and 50.7 percent in 2014.
Most recent election
Dannel P. Malloy D/WF 548248
Thomas C. Foley R/I 521645
Joe Visconti PC 11422
Financial disclosure
In his Statement of Financial Interest, Malloy and his wife reported owning no securities worth more than $5,000. Their major asset was their home in Stamford, which they rented until selling it in 2014. As governor, he earns a pension that will pay him $5,000 annually for every year of service, or $40,000 if he completes his second term.
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