Malloy to labor: ‘I need you’

Dan Malloy asked the Connecticut AFL-CIO today for an endorsement that would consolidate his labor support after winning the Democratic primary for governor.

“We need to come together. And the coming together starts in this hall on this day, and thank you for having me to address you,” Malloy told delegates at labor’s biennial political convention.

Republican Tom Foley is to address the AFL-CIO this afternoon, but the organization’s endorsement of Malloy in a vote Tuesday morning is a formality.


A welcome for Dan Malloy, Nancy Wyman at the AFL-CIO. (Mark Pazniokas)

The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Richard Blumenthal, also is to address the labor delegates at the Hilton in downtown Hartford. Republican Linda McMahon did not accept the labor federation’s invitation to attend, officials said.

McMahon’s campaign said they could find no record of an invitation.

“Obviously Linda would have been eager to attend and speak,” said Edward Patru, a spokesman.

Malloy had extensive organized labor support in his primary against Ned Lamont, but the AFL-CIO remained neutral in the race, which Malloy won Tuesday with 58 percent of the vote.

Malloy referred to Lamont today as his “noble opponent,” setting aside negative ads that dominated the closing weeks of the campaign. He said he looked forward to working with Lamont.

The number of union households in Connecticut has been shrinking, but Malloy said that labor remains an important constituency, both its members and its aspirations for working men and women.

He said labor has been ignored for too long, “turned away from the gates of government.”

“Those days are over. A new day has begun. It began on primary night. It continues on this Monday,” Malloy said. “It will go through September and October and on Nov. 2, we together will have a resounding victory. I need you. I need you to get my message out.”

Foley and the Republicans are expected to portray Malloy as too close to labor in a time when the next governor will have to impose fiscal discipline on state government, which may include seeking concessions from state employees.

Malloy waved off questions about whether he needs to show some independence of labor.

“From time to time I am going to remind you that I ran with some labor support, but not monolithic support,” Malloy told reporters after this speech. ” I had more support than I did four years ago, because I almost had none. These are different times.”

Malloy lost a Democratic primary for governor in 2006 to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

Malloy was similarly dismissive of another Republican talking point: the state cannot afford to have Democrats control the governor’s office and the legislature.

He said he’ll gladly debate that point with Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former U.S. ambassador.

“Oh, for God’s sake. We lived through 20 years of divided leadership and look what it’s gotten us,” Malloy said. “I mean, has he lived in this state for any portion of that 20 years? Does he understand how bad it’s been?”