TREMONT MANAGING DIRECTOR ON POTENTIAL FOR GOVERNOR MALLOY TO LEAVE OFFICE EARLY

Malloy Says He’s Not Leaving Early Despite Rumors

Hartford Courant

By Christopher Keating

September 2, 2017

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says that growing reports that he will leave the governorship before his term ends are “crazy.’’

Word has been spreading among lobbyists, state employees and political insiders that Malloy would step down before his term ends in January 2019 and allow Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to become governor. Malloy, under the scenario, would then take a high-ranking position at the University of Connecticut or another college.

Malloy, 62, confirmed that the rumors have filtered back on a regular basis to his office.

“Every day — yes,’’ Malloy told The Courant.But he says he intends to continue working as governor and dismissed the reports as unfounded.“It’s crazy,’’ Malloy said. “We hear it all the time.’’

The rumors come as Malloy has already indicated he will not seek re-election in 2018. Wyman has not ruled out a run for governor and while it could benefit her chances at re-election if she were to run in 2018, Malloy maintained he has no plans of stepping down.

The governor’s office has also heard — and rejected — reports that Malloy would work for former White House aide Valerie Jarrett, a confidante of President Barack Obama who is interested in criminal justice reforms like Malloy. Another scenario involves him working for a major law firm.

The rumors have included not only taking a job at UConn, but the top job as the school’s president. But UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said it is the first she has heard of the governor replacing President Susan Herbst.

“I haven’t heard anything at all along those lines,’’ Reitz said Friday. “President Herbst has said repeatedly that she is very happy here, and the board of trustees and Gov. Malloy are happy with her. President Herbst is our president and will remain our president for the near future.’’

Herbst also has a contract that was extended through June 30, 2019.

In a similar way, the conventional wisdom among some political insiders at the Capitol throughout 2016 was that Malloy would be leaving early to take a federal position in Washington, D.C., under Hillary Clinton. Those reports ended abruptly when Clinton lost the election in November 2016 to Republican Donald Trump.

Matthew J. Hennessy, a longtime Hartford political operative, said the rumors have continued because the scenarios are not far-fetched.

“As governor, he’s been very interested in issues of education,’’ Hennessy said. “If Herbst was to leave, I think many people would say he would become a candidate for the position.’’

College presidents traditionally have included long-time academic provosts and deans with Ph.D. degrees who have spent their entire careers in education. But Malloy’s former chief of staff, Mark Ojakian, spent his career in the governor’s office, the state comptroller’s office and other positions before becoming the leader of the Connecticut public higher education system. In addition, Evan Dobelle was a one-time mayor of Pittsfield, Mass., and held other positions before becoming president of Trinity College in Hartford. He stepped down in 2001.

“There’s a history in both Connecticut and Massachusetts of people coming directly out of politics and going into education,’’ Hennessy said.

Tremont Director On Politics of Trump Interview of Lieberman for FBI

Lieberman Emerges As Candidate For FBI Director; Meets With Trump

By Christopher Keating

Hartford Courant

May 17, 2017

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday as one of four potential candidates to be the nation's next FBI Director.

The White House revealed the interviews Wednesday after Trump left Connecticut following his graduation speech at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.

Besides Lieberman, Trump met with former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe and Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official, according to the White House.

The interviews came more than a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. In a fast-moving process, Trump has suggested he hopes to choose the next FBI leader before he leaves Friday for Saudi Arabia and other countries in his first overseas trip since taking office in January.

Lieberman could not be reached for comment. CNN reported that Lieberman was first contacted on Tuesday and asked to fly to Washington for a meeting the next day. He said the interview "was not sought after or expected.''

After the inteview, The Associated Press said Lieberman described the session as a "good meeting.''

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Judiciary Committee, declined to comment on Lieberman because of his stance since February that a special prosecutor must be working on the Russia investigation. Although Robert Mueller was announced as the special prosecutor Wednesday, he has not started working on the case.

"I will avoid commenting on any of the potential nominees until I am assured that the special prosecutor has the resources, independence and unconditional mandate to pursue evidence wherever it leads,'' Blumenthal said Wednesday night.

Blumenthal added that the new FBI director "should have a background in criminal justice, preferably as a prosecutor and should be above politics — with no political background or partisan connections. Anybody who takes this job has to have extraordinary unquestionable credibility in criminal justice and must be above politics.''

Based on his views as a conservative Democrat on some issues, Lieberman has been considered for positions by Republicans in the past.

In an interview with The Courant before he left the Senate, Lieberman said that he was secretly considered for jobs under then-President George W. Bush.

"Should I say this?'' Lieberman said aloud during an interview, looking over at an aide. "I don't know if I've said it before. I should have saved this for my book.''

"Twice I was asked if I would consider — I was not offered, and that's very important to say — at the end of the first Bush administration, after he had been re-elected [in 2004],'' Lieberman said. "I was asked whether I would consider accepting the position of ambassador to the United Nations.''

Lieberman spoke with various Bush advisers, including then-chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, about the position before he finally decided to remain in the Senate.

Not long after, Lieberman said, Card called again, asking him about being homeland security chief on short notice. Would he consider replacing Bernie Kerik of New York, who had run into major controversy in December 2004 after being nominated?

"If you're asked by a president, when the focus of my life has been public service,'' Lieberman said, "you really have to give it the most serious consideration — and I did give the U.N. ambassadorship serious consideration. … But ultimately I decided I wanted to continue working in the Senate.''

Lieberman had the chance to caucus with the Senate Republicans after some Democrats wanted to throw him out of the party for supporting the Iraq War and then endorsing U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona in 2008 against Democrat Barack Obama.

Despite his voting record with Democrats on core domestic issues like gun control, abortion rights, tax increases, the environment and gay rights, Lieberman also took a series of high-profile positions on national security during his career that won favor with Republicans.

Matthew J. Hennessy, a former Lieberman aide and supporter for more than 25 years, said that interviewing Lieberman could be an olive branch to McCain and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham — two Republicans who have been outspoken against Trump on some issues. Along with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the three Republicans are swing voters and close friends of Lieberman in the Senate.

"On its face, it's a smart move,'' said Hennessy, a longtime Democratic political strategist. "I think Joe's happy to go in and meet with the president, but this also may show Trump is trying to show it's a serious search. This isn't the first time that he's invited Joe and had it leak out that Joe was coming. During the transition, Trump had Joe come up to Trump Tower to discuss issues.''

What Should Democrats Take Away From Election Night 2016?

On Wednesday, Hilary Clinton gave a dignified, responsible and inspirational concession speech, reaffirming all the reasons why many wanted her to be our next President.

Since Wednesday, Democratic politicians and operatives have pointed to range of issues that cost Clinton the election. Bad polling, poor tactical decisions on media buys, lack of candidate attention to Midwest states, bias, sexism, voter suppression, and the ill-timed letter of FBI Director Comey were all listed as decisive factors in the loss. Without dismissing the importance of any of these issues, Democrats interested in the future of the party should carefully look at the exit polls.  There are many elements that go into a loss (or win) in a Presidential election, but there are a few issues identified in the polls that merit further thoughtful consideration:

1.       Trump won the majority of voters who thought the economy was “Fair”, the majority of voters who felt their families were worse of economically and voters who thought the next generation of Americans will be worse off than they are today.

In short, Democrats did not provide a compelling message of hope to those most worried about their economic futures and those of their children. This group represented 27%-41% of all voters and Clinton lost them by 16%-32%. Historically, Democrats have been unabashed in their support for families under economic stress. The fact Clinton’s message failed to connect with these voters is worth further discussion.

2.       Trump won those voters who served in the military by 27%.

More than 1.5 million voters in Florida are veterans, and constitute important constituencies in key counties in Ohio and other Mid-West states. Though the most successful program for veterans (the G.I. Bill) was created and expanded by Democrats, Clinton never seemed to break through with a message that resonated with veterans, even though Trump went out of his way to insult POWs and Gold Star families.

Hilary Clinton is already about 400,000 votes ahead of Trump in the popular vote. However, the only thing that matters is the Electoral College. Democrats shouldn’t miss the opportunity review how the affirmative message resonates with important constituencies and prepare for 2018.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?_r=0

Hennessy on Clinton Cabinet in Wall Street Journal

Malloy’s Stature Rises in Party, but Probe Clouds Prospects

Connecticut governor leads Democratic Governors Association and is strong backer of Hillary Clinton, but a post in a potential Clinton administration is far from certain

Joseph De Avila

Wall Street Journal

Aug. 21, 2016 9:40 p.m. ET

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s national profile has reached new heights this year, even as he faces growing political challenges at home.

He leads the Democratic Governors Association. He co-chaired the Democratic Party’s platform committee and addressed delegates during the opening night of the national convention in July. And he has emerged as one of the most aggressive surrogates for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

This has led to speculation in Connecticut that Mr. Malloy was in the running for a job in the Clinton administration should Mrs. Clinton win the election this fall. Many political observers think Mr. Malloy would pass on running for a third term with his job approval rating at 24%.

But the potential for a White House position has become murkier since a federal investigation began, focused on the Connecticut Democratic Party’s spending on his 2014 re-election campaign.

 “There is definitely a cloud hanging over him now in the state,” said Gary Rose, chairman of the department of government, politics and global studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. “He is a very wounded prospect right now for a federal appointment.”

Many Connecticut Republicans agree.

“The rumors around here for years has been he wants to get out of Connecticut and go to work in Washington and get a cabinet post in the Clinton administration,” said state Sen. Joe Markley, a Republican. “But I would say the investigation, first of all, makes it unlikely.”

The investigation centers on allegations that the state Democratic Party illegally used money from its federal account on Mr. Malloy’s re-election efforts. The federal account included donations from people with state contracts, who are barred from donating to state candidates.

‘No one under any cloud of investigation is on any serious list for any appointment in any White House.’

—Bill Curry, a two-time Democratic candidate for governor in Connecticut

The party has said it is cooperating with investigators and that it followed federal and state election laws. Mr. Malloy said earlier this month that he hasn’t been subpoenaed by federal investigators.

Before becoming governor, Mr. Malloy worked as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn and served four terms as Stamford’s mayor. He narrowly defeated Greenwich businessman Tom Foley in a tight gubernatorial election in 2010 and beat him a second time in 2014.

Mr. Malloy’s supporters say don’t count him out. Nick Balletto, chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said Mr. Malloy’s stewardship of the state, including passing new gun laws after the Newtown school shooting, made him a good choice for a Clinton administration.

 “I think he’s earned a secretary’s position,” perhaps leading the Department of Health and Human Services or Transportation departments or serving as attorney general, Mr. Balletto said. “Just because they are investigating something doesn’t mean there is something wrong or there is something there.”

Bill Curry, a Democrat who served as counsel to President Bill Clinton’s administration, said it was unlikely Mr. Malloy would be considered for any position while there is an active federal probe.

“No one under any cloud of investigation is on any serious list for any appointment in any White House,” said Mr. Curry, a two-time Democratic candidate for governor in Connecticut who supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries. “It simply isn’t worth the enormous political and moral hazard.”

‘I think he’s earned a secretary’s position.’

—Nick Balletto, chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, referring to a post in a potential Clinton administration

Matthew Hennessy, a Democratic consultant, said a federal investigation “obviously would be an area of concern for anyone doing vetting for a senior position in the administration.” But he added that Mr. Malloy’s relationship to the investigation has only been tangential from what is currently known publicly.

A spokesman for Mr. Malloy said in an emailed statement “he’s working hard as governor every single day, and nothing has or will change that fact.”

The statement didn’t address the federal investigation or its potential impact on the governor’s future. The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, said Mr. Malloy has embraced his role as a surrogate for Mrs. Clinton and appears to be pursuing a federal job because he is unlikely to be re-elected given his unpopularity at home.

 “He has really taken this pit-bull role attacking Donald Trump,” Mr. McLean said.

Tom Swan, a Democratic political activist and executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said Mr. Malloy would face a tough confirmation if he was nominated during a federal investigation.

“If this is still hanging over his head, Republicans would have a field day,” Mr. Swan said.

John Olsen, former chairman of the state Democratic Party, said he doesn’t think the investigation means Mr. Malloy wouldn’t be considered. But he acknowledged that Republicans would use that as a line of attack.

“If you are a surrogate, they want to whack you,” Mr. Olsen said.

 

Tremont Director Speaks on Higher Ed Reform in the Wall Street Journal

Higher-Education Chief in Connecticut Aims to Rebuild Trust

By

Joseph De Avila

Wall Street Journal

May 27, 2016 7:41 p.m. ET

Mark Ojakian went through some rough patches last fall after he became president of Connecticut State Colleges & Universities.

Faculty were reeling from the departure of the system’s fourth president since its creation in 2011. Then, contract talks with some faculty got ugly. Professors held rallies and demonstrated.

It muddled Mr. Ojakian’s effort to restore trust between the administration and faculty at CSCU, made up of four state universities, 12 community colleges and an online school.

“Coming in, I wanted to provide some consistency, some stability to the system, to let people know who I was and that I was not just a political person coming in to cut the system to the bare bones,” he said.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/high-education-chief-in-connecticut-aims-to-rebuild-trust-1464392485

 

The Video That Could Make Trump President

TO:      Interested Democrats and Friends of Tremont Public Advisors

FROM:  Matt Hennessy, Managing Director TPA

 DATE:   3/3/16

 RE:      The Video that Could Make Trump President

"I'll tell you want I would go right now to Carrier and say I would work awfully hard, you’re going to make air conditioners right now in Mexico - you're going to get all of these 1,400 people that are being laid off - they were crying - it was a very sad situation,” – Donald Trump

 Since mid-February, Republican candidate for President Donald Trump has repeatedly raised the issue of United Technologies Corporation (UTC) (UTX) subsidiary Carrier Corporation’s decision to lay-off 1,400 workers at plants in Indiana and move the jobs to Mexico. The video that sparked Trump’s comments about Carrier in debates and at his victory press conference on Super Tuesday night, shows Carrier executive Chris Nelson explaining to incredulous workers that the transfer of jobs was simply “a business decision” and did not reflect negatively on the quality of their work.

 Trump’s interest in the Carrier layoffs story does not stem from genuine concern about the plight of workers, but from its usefulness in reinforcing his narrative that America is in decline and that foreign countries such as Mexico and China are outwitting our leaders at every turn. Though Trump’s campaign has not expanded it critique of the decision of Carrier to move jobs to Mexico, additional, public facts could transform a vaguely xenophobic throw-away line into a powerful narrative of how working class Americans are having their livelihood threatened to benefit multi-national corporations and foreign countries.

UTC

Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies Corporation, based in Farmington, Connecticut generated a net income last year of $7.61 Billion. Carrier is in UTC’s profitable Climate Controls & Security Division which generates considerable revenue from overseas business operations including in China. In the course of its business dealings in China, UTC illegally transferred military technology that allowed China to develop it first modern attack helicopter. As a result, in 2012 UTC pled guilty in federal court to violating the Arms Control Export Act and paid more than $75 million in fines.

 UTC has an active corporate giving program and like many large companies has donated to the Clinton Foundation and partnered with the Foundation’s Climate Initiative.

 Potential General Election Impact in Ohio and Pennsylvania

 In Trump’s view, a profitable company using a “poorly” negotiated trade deal to give American jobs to Mexicans, while also selling military technology to strengthen China’s armed forces, validates everything he has been saying. In his narrative, the “incompetent” and “weak” American government is once again being outwitted by the Mexicans and Chinese. For working class Americans the results of that betrayal are seen in the faces and cries of the Carrier workers captured on YouTube.  This message resonates with working class voters, and should be of tremendous concern to Democrats concerned about winning Ohio and Pennsylvania in November.

 Super Tuesday Exit polls show that Trump’s supporters like him because he “tells it like it is” and because they want someone outside the political establishment. Polls also showed Trump out-performed among angry voters with a high school education who were concerned about the economy. For white working class voters (union and non-union) worried about their economic future in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Trump’s message resonates.

 Trump presently leads  Clinton in Ohio by two points and older head to head polling in Pennsylvania shows the same. However, a recent door to door canvas by AFL-CIO affiliated Working America of 1,689 likely voters with household incomes of $75,000 or less in working-class neighborhoods outside Cleveland and Pittsburgh showed that Trump held a considerable lead in the household visited. Among the survey findings:

·         Donald Trump was favored by more than a third of those who chose a candidate (38%), overwhelming all other Republican candidates (27% combined). Nearly the same number chose one of two Democratic candidates, Clinton (22%) or Sanders (12%).

·         While most of Trump’s support comes from the staunch Republican base, 1 in 4 Democrats who chose a candidate showed a preference for Trump.

·         Personality was far more important than issues among Trump supporters. Nearly half of voters who identified themselves as supporters liked him because “he speaks his mind.”

·         A third of Trump supporters said they would be unwilling to vote for anyone else if Trump is not the nominee.

·         Party loyalty did not determine candidate choice as much as expected. Of Trump partisans, 58% said they would support him even if he runs as an independent. Additionally, a small number of Trump supporters were considering a Democrat if Trump doesn’t end up on the ballot.

·         Good jobs/the economy remain the top issues among voters, at 27%, with homeland security and terrorism next (14%) and health care as the third most frequently cited priority (10%).

 

Economic worry seems to be the driver for white working class voters who feel powerless about a political and economic system that seems to be stacked against them. Trump’s outsider status and penchant for “telling it like it is” helps connect him with those voters

For Democrats: What To Do?

 Don’t be afraid to directly address the Carrier issue with greater passion than Trump. The Sanders camp has spoken out on the job loss at Carrier, while the Clinton camp reaction has been muted. The Clinton camp needs to be full-throated in its opposition to these jobs moving to Mexico regardless of incidental connections to UTC in the past.

 Trump has dominated the narrative on the fears of working class voters about economic uncertainty. Democrats need to clearly acknowledge those fears as valid, and credibly explain how Democratic policies will generate jobs and economic growth for working class neighborhoods not only in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but also across the country.

Don’t dismiss the Trump constituency. Though it is unlikely that the Democratic nominee for President will garner much support from Trump backers, there is an important subset of his voters that could be convinced to vote for the Democrat. This group of voters could play an important role in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 CT Campaign Wrap- Up

In The Battle For Connecticut's Cities And Towns, Both Parties Claim Victory

Christopher Keating

HARTFORD — Republicans and Democrats are touting their victories from Tuesday's municipal elections and pointing to local issues – rather than statewide or national ideological trends – that were the deciding factor in the races across the state.

"At the end of the day, local issues are going to trump any ideological message that gets used in the campaign,'' said Matthew J. Hennessy, a longtime Democratic political consultant in Hartford. "I think the Republicans tried to put [Gov.] Dan Malloy on the ballot in these municipal races, and that strategy just didn't seem to work. That could be the one thing that comes out of this, especially in the Fairfield race and trying to tie it to GE. Voters are smarter than that.''

He added, "Getting an ideological message that's going to resonate in a mayor's or first selectman's race is a fool's errand. It just was not an effective approach.''

"When the smoke clears, it would be very difficult to find a trend – other than the status quo was essentially maintained,'' Hennessy said. "I don't think you can read much else into it.''

http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-all-politics-is-local-1105-20151104-story.html

Tremont Director In Politico Magazine

 

How Scott Walker Will Win

Why the Wisconsin governor might be the last Republican standing.

By Alan Greenblatt

July 12, 2015

Plenty of Republicans don't want to vote for Jeb Bush. The same cannot be said about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. That's why this understated and under-known Midwesterner could rise up and beat not just expectations but the entire field. In fact, Walker could plausibly clinch the nomination without losing a single early state. Walker, who is making his candidacy official on Monday, has always combined the populist instincts of talk radio with the policy agenda of a free-market think tank. This is working well for him in Iowa, where he enjoys a regional advantage. 

No such thing. Walker has supported the concept of right to work from his earliest days as a legislator, back in his 20s, and didn't hesitate when a bill reached his desk in March. It was the culmination of a strategy Walker himself once described to a wealthy donor as "divide and conquer" when it comes to labor issues. Walker secured support from some unions back in 2011, even while he was stripping most public employees of their bargaining power. All of this is to say that he's more sophisticated in his approach than his bulldozer image may suggest. "He had a strategy there that a lot of people didn't give him credit for," says Matt Hennessy, a Democratic consultant in Connecticut. "He disarmed some very important constituencies that could have cost him that fight."

As you might expect a Democrat to say, Hennessy believes the stances Walker is taking now could haunt him in the general election. It's one of the key debates in Republican circles—do you have to run too far to the right to win the nomination to be able to win in November? That, however, is a question for another day.


Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/07/scott-walker-knows-how-to-win-119951#ixzz41aitv3b9

 

Tremont Director on Rubio Campaign

Marco Rubio Energizes Republicans At Annual Prescott Bush Dinner

By Christopher Keating contact the reporter

June 5, 2015

STAMFORD — Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio energized the audience of more than 800 at the party's biggest fundraiser Thursday night, leading many to say he can defeat Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.

Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, received a standing ovation after a 23-minute keynote speech at the 37th annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner, the marquee fundraising event for state Republicans.

"The time has come for a new generation of leaders," Rubio told the sold-out crowd. "We are just one election away from a néw American century. That"s why I'm running for president."

Citing his humble roots, Rubio told the audience in a large hotel ballroom that his father worked for decades at a portable bar "in the back of a room like this so one day I could stand before you on an evening like this."

Without mentioning Clinton by name, he took jabs at the Democratic presidential front-runner.

"I don't have a family foundation that raised over $2 billion from Wall Street and foreign interests," Rubio said. "The biggest debt I have is to America."

After his speech, Rubio shook hands with those on the dais, including former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, and left the ballroom immediately. He had to catch a plane in 90 minutes for a campaign flight.

Rubio has emphasized his youth and energy in the race against Clinton, 67.

"The truth is I'm 44 years old, but I feel like I'm 45," Rubio said as the crowd laughed.

Contributors paid as much as $5,000 per person for a VIP reception, photo and seating near Rubio. Dinner tickets were $250 per person at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Summer Street, the same site where George H. W. Bush had been the keynote speaker more than 20 years ago. The dinner is named for George H.W. Bush's father, Prescott Bush, a U.S. senator from Greenwich.

Rubio said that as president he would protect the rights of gun owners, remove the marriage penalty in the federal tax code, end cuts to the American military and "help the nation of Israel prosper as a Jewish state."

Former Republican State Chairman Chris Healy said he wants Rubio as the vice presidential candidate in a crowded Republican presidential field. At this early stage, Healy is supporting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has gained national attention for clashing with unions in his home state and winning three elections in four years.

"Marco Rubio, like Walker, represents not only the future of the party, but of the country,'' Healy said. "Rubio has such great skills in communicating the true nature of the country. ... He speaks without notes, extemporaneously and with great timing and conviction.''

Healy, who recruited keynote speakers during his years as party chairman, said, "I think it's a great catch for the party to have Rubio."

Democrats around the country have been quoted as saying that Rubio could be a tough match for Clinton because of his compelling personal story, energy and youth.

Longtime Hartford Democratic strategist Matthew Hennessy said it is still unclear whether Rubio can withstand the national media spotlight.

"From a Democratic perspective, the challenge that Rubio presents is he has this immigrant background story," Hennessy said Thursday. "He is an attractive Latino candidate for a party that has alienated the vast majority of Latinos in this country. That is an important constituency for the Democrats. ... He has been demonstrating some real excitement for the Republican Party. The Republican bench is usually older, white men who don't appeal to a younger age group."

Hennessy cited questions raised about Rubio's ties to 82-year-old Florida billionaire Norman Braman, who has helped his political career with major campaign contributions and hired Rubio's wife at his charitable foundation. Rubio, who was once hired by Braman as a lawyer, has said that Braman is a father figure and there are no conflicts of interest.

"The question is whether he can withstand scrutiny in the Republican primary," Hennessy said. "He does have this background that needs to be fleshed out.''

Also, the candidates he will be battling are conservative Republicans who are known as reliable in primaries. "Does [U.S. Sen.] Ted Cruz force Rubio further right than he wants to go?'' Hennessy asked.

In a conference call with reporters before Rubio's speech, Democratic State Chairman Nick Balletto described Rubio as "an extreme Republican" who opposes raising the minimum wage, wants to repeal Obamacare and favors cutting taxes for the rich.

 

Wall Street Journal On Race for Governor

Star Power Drawn to Race in Connecticut

Obama Campaigned for Malloy Sunday, and Christie Was to Stump for Foley Monday

By

Joseph De Avila

Nov. 2, 2014 9:45 p.m. ET

WALL STREET JOURNAL

MANCHESTER, Conn.—Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley were summoning high-powered surrogates to Connecticut for the final sprint of their tight race for governor.

President Barack Obama rallied with Mr. Malloy on Sunday in Bridgeport, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday was scheduled to make his fifth campaign stop in the state with Mr. Foley, who is in the midst of a 25-city bus tour.

Mr. Malloy, 59 years old, a former mayor of Stamford, and Mr. Foley, 62, a businessman from Greenwich and a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, each received 43% support in an Oct. 29 poll of likely voters conducted by Quinnipiac University.

In the two candidates’ first matchup in 2010, Mr. Malloy beat Mr. Foley by about 6,400 votes out of 1.146 million cast. In the rematch, neither candidate has been able to establish a meaningful lead, and polls show neither has an enviable favorability rating among voters.

“The central dynamic of the campaign is that Gov. Malloy has been vulnerable,” said Douglas Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. At the same time, he said, Mr. Foley “hasn’t exploited the vulnerability.”

Another layer of uncertainty was added to the race on Sunday, as conservative third-party candidate Joe Visconti said he was dropping out and endorsing Mr. Foley. Mr. Visconti, a Second Amendment advocate, polled at 7% in the most recent Quinnipiac survey. When the poll was recalculated without Mr. Visconti, Mr. Foley had 46% of the vote and Mr. Malloy had 45%.

Mr. Foley has focused his campaign on Mr. Malloy’s stewardship of the economy, but he hasn’t effectively communicated how he would lead the state, said Matthew Hennessy, a Democratic strategist unaffiliated with the Malloy campaign.

That has left Mr. Foley vulnerable to attacks from the Malloy campaign that have painted the Republican as an out-of-touch businessman, he said.

Yet Mr. Malloy has struggled to change the minds of voters about his job performance, particularly on the economy, Mr. Hennessy said. “You put that all together and you don’t see an opportunity for someone to break away,” he said.

The Oct. 29 Quinnipiac survey found that 52% of respondents had a negative view of Mr. Malloy, which Mr. Schwartz said largely could be attributed to the $1.5 billion tax increase the governor signed into law in 2011.

Art Kean, a Foley supporter who owns a gas station in New Canaan, greeted the Republican candidate with a handshake Friday during a stop on Mr. Foley’s bus tour. “This state is taxed too high,” said Mr. Kean, 65.

Mr. Foley had a 43% unfavorable rating, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. That was better than Mr. Malloy’s, but still not great, Mr. Schwartz said.

Mary LaRoux, 58, of Manchester, said Mr. Malloy has made progress fixing the state’s fiscal problems, particularly when he closed the $3.6 billion budget deficit he inherited in 2011 after Republican Gov. Jodi Rell left office. “The Democrats clean up what the Republicans did,” Ms. LaRoux said.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate of 6.4% still lags behind the national figure of 5.9%. But the state added 11,500 jobs in September, the largest single-month gain in 20 years.

Mr. Malloy said in an interview in Manchester that the job gains showed that the state was on the rebound. “I don’t think people understand how much the economy is getting better, in part because my opponent is telling them it’s not,” he said.

Mr. Foley played down September’s job gains in an appearance Friday at Stamford’s Bulls Head Diner. “We still have one of the worst job recovery rates of any state in the country,” said Mr. Foley.

Unlike in 2010, when Mr. Foley spent $11 million on his campaign, the race this year is evenly matched financially. Both men participated in the state’s campaign-finance program, which limits them each to $6.5 million for the general election. Outside groups spent more than $16 million on the race in support of both candidates, with Mr. Malloy receiving slightly greater support.

Analysts say the tightness of the Malloy-Foley race highlights the nature of the state’s voters—fiscally conservative but socially liberal.

They prefer Democratic presidents and Democratic representatives in Congress who will advocate for liberal social issues, said William Salka, chairman of the department of political science, philosophy and geography at Eastern Connecticut State University. That meant easy victories for Connecticut Democrats running for U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012.

“But when it comes to the governor, that fiscal conservatism kicks in,” Mr. Salka said. “There are a lot of people who are concerned with a Democrat in the governor’s mansion and a Democratic majority in the house and Senate and what that means for spending and for taxes.”

Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion in Connecticut from 1995 to 2010.