Malloy Says He’s Not Leaving Early Despite Rumors
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.