A transition begins, for a governor-elect and Connecticut

In his first press conference as governor-elect, Democrat Dan Malloy today praised his opponent, Republican Tom Foley, as “a classy guy,” then quickly turned to Connecticut’s first full-fledged gubernatorial transition in 16 years.

“Now it’s time for Nancy and I to get to work,” said Malloy, standing with his running mate, Nancy Wyman.  “I want the people of Connecticut to know that we are committed to putting Connecticut back to work and getting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.”

Malloy, 55, the former mayor of Stamford, will be inaugurated Jan. 5 as the state’s 88th governor, assuming responsibility for a deficit of $3.3 billion and control of a government with the nation’s second-worst record of creating jobs over two decades.


Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman: It’s time to get to work (Jacqueline Rabe)

Less than two hours after Foley conceded defeat and announced he would not challenge the election results, Malloy and Wyman stepped to a lectern in the ornate Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol for the first time as the undisputed governor-elect and lieutenant governor-elect.

Malloy, who unsuccessfully sought the office in 2006, said he was fully cognizant of the weight of expectations and challenges that soon will fall on his shoulders.

“The good news is the state of Connecticut is filled with good, honest, hardworking people who have great strength and resiliency, and this will be an administration that will match the people’s strength and resiliency,” he said.

He pledged to the public and press to be as open and transparent as possible as he takes office as the first Democratic governor since William A. O’Neill left office in January 1991, giving way to the independent, Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

“We will treat you with honesty, with forthrightness and look to have a strong working relationship,” Malloy said.

The first real trappings of power will be visible Tuesday, when Malloy is expected to come under protection of a State Police security detail that will be his constant companion for the next four years.

Malloy, who is married and has three sons, the youngest of whom is a college freshman, intends to live in the Executive Residence on Prospect Avenue in Hartford’s fashionable West End, near Elizabeth Park.

Connecticut has not seen the governor’s office pass from one party to another since January 1995, when Weicker was succeeded by Republican John G. Rowland. Rowland resigned under threat of impeachment for corruption in July 2004 and was replaced by his lieutenant, M. Jodi Rell.

Malloy used the Rell administration as a constant foil on the campaign trail, calling the governor a disengaged chief executive. Foley was only marginally friendlier to Rell, who remains personally popular.

Rell congratulated Malloy today.

“I want to offer my personal congratulations to Governor-elect Malloy. I also extend my appreciation to both candidates for the patience they have shown during the extraordinary and often trying days that have followed the election,” she said.

She offered her cooperation, even though she issued a memo last week barring her commissioners from direct contact with Malloy. Today, Malloy said he assumed the memo was a reflection only of the uncertainty about who had won.

“I take the governor at her word,” Malloy said. “She wants to have a robust dialogue, concerning the transference of authority, and I expect that will take place.”

Tim Bannon, Malloy’s chief of staff and the co-director of the transition team with Wyman, already has met with Rell’s chief of staff, Lisa Moody.

Bannon, who served in the O’Neill administration when Moody was a legislative staffer, called Moody an old friend. He said he anticipates a smooth transition.

So far, the transition team has no work space, other than Bannon’s kitchen. Even before the election, Bannon was tasked with the responsibility of completing a check list for the new governor.

Malloy will take office with less than 50 percent of the vote, as did Weicker in 1991 and Rowland in 1995. He dismissed a question about a lack of a mandate.

“I have 100 percent of the responsibility,” he said. “My mandate is to do the best I can with my running mate.”

His first question was an easy one: Why did he stop wearing the green neckties he wore every day since May 1? They had become a good luck charm for Malloy, the seventh son of an Irish-Catholic couple.

Today, he wore a maroon tie.

His answer: “Because I won.”