NHI Profiles Bysiewicz, Malloy

The New Haven Independent sat down with Susan Bysiewicz and Dan Malloy recently, and the resulting article shows two politicians who seem much more focused on the task at hand than they were at this point in the 2006 cycle.

Then, of course, Dan Malloy’s campaign was suspended as he dealt with corruption allegations–he resumed the campaign upon receiving a clean bill of ethical health. Bysiewicz, on the other hand, was running a murky, unfocused race that never seemed to gain much traction. None of the candidates seemed especially willing to take shots at the incredibly popular Jodi Rell, at least not then (and Bysiewicz was prone to making some very Rell-like statements: see especially her quote here, in our newly reopened onsite archive, about how we ought to balance the state budget like reg’lar folks balance their checkbooks).

Now, however, both candidates seem far more ready to do battle with the governor. Bysiewicz, especially, seems to think she can change the game:

“I was very impressed with his performance during the debate,” Bysiewicz said of Destefano. But “you almost got the sense that he was holding back. He didn’t want to be seen as attacking ‘grandma.’”

“I don’t think,” Bysiewicz added, “that dynamic will be true if I’m the candidate.”

That’s a pretty naked assertion that what Bysiewicz brings to the table is her gender–which is something Rell’s opponents seemed to stumble over in 2006. It’s not the worst argument, and it suggests that Bysiewicz won’t back down from a confrontation with Rell.

Malloy, when asked why he thinks he can beat a popular incumbent governor, has this to say:

“At some point people are going to make a connection between what’s wrong with Connecticut,” he insisted, “and the person who’s been leading it as number one or number two [lieutenant] for the past 16 years.”

He sounds frustrated. And at some point, maybe he’ll be right, and people will pin the blame on the lousy state of affairs in Connecticut on Rell and other incumbents. That point wasn’t back in 2006, of course.

Will it come in 2010? Maybe.

The Incumbent Rule Redux

It’s worth dragging out the old incumbent rule again, just to see how it applies in this case. The incumbent rule, for those of you who missed it last time, is that all things being equal, voters tend to prefer incumbents. Simple and obvious. There are also some tried-and-true ways in which the rule is broken, and one of those is when, during an election cycle, some sort of external or internal crisis causes voters to break with the incumbent.

In Connecticut, in 2006, the incumbent had a huge advantage, not only because of her personal popularity, but because the state was not in crisis. In fact, Rell was seen as a solution to the previous state-level crisis, the saga of John Rowland. There was a continuing crisis on the national level, that of Iraq and the War on Terror in general, which caused voters to break with the GOP, but that crisis was not relevant to Connecticut’s state politics.

2010 could be very different. The economy is currently awful, and likely to get worse. By 2010, unemployment could be way up, state revenue could be down, and bold promises of tax-increase-free budgets could be a dim memory at best. How will this affect Jodi Rell?

So far, she’s weathered the crisis very well. The public still largely approves of her handling of the economic situation, though her critics claim she is far too reactive and not bold or creative enough in her leadership. She’s also managed to stay above the partisan fray to an extent, mainly by dismissing the dumber ideas of the GOP caucus and working, sometimes reluctantly, with Democrats.

But by 2010, with an active gubernatorial campaign in full swing and voters looking for someone to blame, Gov. Rell could find her standing drop rapidly. Think of how invincible Chris Dodd seemed a year ago. That’s how quickly things could change, if Rell is perceived as being ineffective. The crisis will cause voters to seek other options, and Rell’s incumbency advantage will evaporate. At that point, she’ll have to rely on her carefully crafted image and personal popularity with voters, both of which could be vulnerable to strong attacks from the Democrats.

Can Susan Bysiewicz, Dan Malloy or Jim Amann take advantage of this, should it happen? They sound like they’re ready to try, certainly. Malloy is trying to craft a clear alternative to Rell’s budget by insisting that taxes need to rise on the wealthiest, and both candidates say that the state needs to invest in infrastructure and health care, among other things.

Will the message resonate with crisis-weary voters in 2010? Will Rell find that being an incumbent is a liability instead of a strength? Will Democrats find a way to blow it again?

Stay tuned.

Source
Bass, Paul. “Tough Enough To Tackle “Grandma”?.” New Haven Independent 3 March, 2009.

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21 responses to “NHI Profiles Bysiewicz, Malloy

  1. Great post.

    I see a much starker distinction in that piece than what Bass apparently drew from it. Bysiewicz played the safe and easy route (“there are other things we have to do before we do before talking about that” blah blah blah) while Malloy was eager to get out in front, step up and say we need to raise revenue.

    Just like in the link Genghis referenced, Susie wants to play it safe and go Jodi-light on us, with no real sense of how she plans to fix things.

    Gotta give credit to Malloy for showing some progressive guts and actually SAYING something.

  2. AndersonScooper

    C’mon Genghis.

    Jodi Rell is the smartest, most hard-working governor this State will ever have. She brings new meaning to the notion of hands-on competence…

  3. AndersonScooper

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/228.html

    Yes, Malloy showed guts by saying its time to follow our neighbors in RI, NY, VT, ME, NJ, MD, DE, etc by passing a progressive state income tax, with higher marginal rates for top-earners.

    Kudos for Dan!

    PS– Please can we quit referring to Mr. 4% as a credible gubernatorial candidate. In doing so, I’m afraid we are encouraging the Crusher to gobble-up the $1.25 Million in public financing.

  4. I’m really impressed by the way that Malloy is already conducting himself this early in the game. He doesn’t hesitate to criticize Rell for her multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, and he’s frank enough to extend that criticism to the editorial boards and even members of his own party who were willing to give the Governor a free pass (what are they thinking?!).

    He’s also speaking very plainly about what it will take to put the budget back in order. This is exactly the kind of direct and honest dialogue that could end the democrat’s quarter century exile from the governor’s mansion.

  5. Yes, Malloy showed guts by saying its time to follow our neighbors in RI, NY, VT, ME, NJ, MD, DE, etc by passing a progressive state income tax, with higher marginal rates for top-earners.

    Since when does it take guts to kill an economy?

  6. Meanwhile, he’s back to his usual trope about Jodi Rell. I guess it’s up to me (again) to remind him that she has a 70 percent approval rating and she’s kicking the ever-loving sh*t out of the Democratic “leadership” (if we can dignify Donovan, Merrill, Williams and Looney with the term) on a daily basis.

    CORRECTION: Rell has a 75 Percent approval rating according to the last Q-Poll.

    Even IF she takes the dive that Scooper and other Democrat bedwetters say Rell is going to take — does anyone really think it will be over 20 percent? Even at that….Rell’s at 55%…still a solid favorablity by any measure in a Democrat leaning state.

    Assuming Rell runs in 2010 — she wins. A Democrat wins with a “perfect storm” of 1) a national Democrat upsurge (doubtful — the Party of the Prez in power usually takes a hit in mid-term elections) and 2) the CT Dem’s run an A+ Candidate (doubtful — do you really think Danny Boy Malloy, Susie B or Crusher are your saviors?)

  7. What just happened to a lot of the posts?

  8. Well, gentlemen, guess which words it’s not cool to refer to women by? Don’t do that again.

  9. Well, gentlemen, guess which words it’s not cool to refer to women by? Don’t do that again.

    I didn’t and haven’t – so where’s my post?

  10. I didn’t and haven’t – so where’s my post?

    You quoted the original.

  11. You quoted the original.

    Huh?
    I edited the text w/in the blockquote

  12. GC, I thought a certain unnamed gubernatorial candidate said he expects to be crushed, if Jodi runs.

    Ignoring the economy, I think Susie B stands the best chance in both the primary and the general.

  13. You quoted the original.

    We love a mystery.

    A conservative Democrat could beat Rell. Pity there isn’t one.

  14. A conservative Democrat could beat Rell. Pity there isn’t one.

    Amann, sort of. But I disagree, I don’t think there would be enough contrast. A conservative Democrat could win an open seat, but probably not beat Rell.

  15. What was the name of the woman susie viciously attacked to win the primary for Sec of State the first time ?? I never forgot how nasty it was – especially from a woman who pulls her kids out in each of her campaigns to beg for her ?? Also can anyone list the accomplishments, issues , etc that this woman has done to be considered for Gov- besides getting hacking her way to a back seat admin job??

  16. Susan says she’ll be tough on Rell, if she becomes a candidate. By this she apparently means she’ll run a nasty campaign. The time for direct criticism of Rell’s lack of leadership is now, not next year because you want to get elected. If you are not moved by the urgency of this moment to show some leadership, you’re not a leader.

    The mess we’re in will require real revenue enhancements, not political posturing and lip service. Like Rell, Bysiewicz is avoiding the unpleasant and difficult conversations – too concerned with public opinion to risk speaking the truth. Ella Grasso? Neither of these women is Ella Grasso. People who knew Ella Grasso scoff at such comparisons.

    Malloy on the other hand is focused on the core of the crisis and the steps required to get there – ending the fiscal irresponsibility that businesses and taxpayers have had to endure. Dan doesn’t just want to be Governor, he wants to run the State. No other candidate, exploratory or otherwise, is putting it out there the way he is.

    Nobody wants more taxes, and Malloy is a fiscal conservative. But that means paying the damn bills. Cutting vital services to the poor and helping sustain the middle class in this time of crisis is something everybody should support. Everyone needs to pay their fair share. There is no alternative. Only Malloy has explicitly taken cutting vital services off the table and said how we’re to pay for them.

    Neither Jodi Rell, nor the woman who politically resembles her so much, can come to grips with that reality.

  17. Susan says she’ll be tough on Rell, if she becomes a candidate. By this she apparently means she’ll run a nasty campaign.

    GASP!
    Not Susan Bysiewicz, surely you’re joking!

    If you are not moved by the urgency of this moment to show some leadership, you’re not a leader.

    Got a problem if your candidate has anger issues like his own city’s now famous chimp too.

    Amann’s looking better all the time!

  18. Ignoring the economy, I think Susie B stands the best chance in both the primary and the general.

    Not a prayer.

    We’ll put someone in charge goading her until she “goes off” in front of the cameras.

    We only need to get her to do it once, (and she will sooner or later explode) trust me Tim.

    Once the general public gets a load of the real Susan Bysiewicz, she’ll be all done and her political future will look as bright as Eliot Spitzer’s or Rod Blagojevich’s.

    She could probably hold her current job as long as she wants and should; because once she’s on video showing her true “inner self” she’ll never hold statewide office again.

    Her famous nickname was given her by members of her own party – that alone should tell you something.

  19. Malloy on the other hand is focused on the core of the crisis and the steps required to get there – ending the fiscal irresponsibility that businesses and taxpayers have had to endure. Dan doesn’t just want to be Governor, he wants to run the State. No other candidate, exploratory or otherwise, is putting it out there the way he is.

    This is very true. He is out there telling it like it is an he isn’t afraid to call Jodi out which is something that will serve him well in the general election vs. Gov. Grandma. Connecticut residents can’t afford to vote for someone because they’re “folksy” and “nice;” they need a leader…..

  20. Using “that word” was my mistake. My apologies. GC was right to do as he did.

  21. Good for you RedFive.

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