Within hours of being declared the likely winner of Connecticut’s gubernatorial election by the state’s chief elections official, Democrat Dan Malloy tapped a key figure from Gov. William A. O’Neill’s administration and an expert in housing finance, Timothy F. Bannon of Manchester, to be his chief of staff and help lead his transition effort.
Not to be outdone, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley – who insisted Wednesday that he ultimately would be certified winner of the election – unveiled his own transition group, led by Northeast Utilities executive Greg Butler and former state Rep. Brian Flaherty, R-Watertown.
“We need to begin the process today of re-creating Connecticut,” Malloy said during a late afternoon press conference in the Capitol, naming his running mate, Comptroller Nancy Wyman, to co-chair the transition effort with Bannon. “The people of Connecticut expect an administration to take office on Jan. 5 and deal with the massive issues facing Connecticut.”
A 1977 graduate of Yale Law School, Bannon, 63, joined the O’Neill administration in February 1985, serving two-and-a-half years as a speechwriter and administrative aide before becoming commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services and then special counsel.
When O’Neill left office in 1991, Bannon began one of two prolonged stints in the private sector, serving seven years at Aetna working in corporate planning and legal affairs.
After two years as assistant deputy state treasurer in 1999 and 2000, Bannon returned to the private sector, working in public affairs and the legal department for Perdue Pharma of Stamford, where he first met Malloy.
For the last two years Bannon has served as executive director and president of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, a quasi-public agency created by the state legislature four decades ago to help housing development to serve low- and moderate-income families.
Malloy said Bannon “shares a passion for housing that I have” and predicted their administration would significantly expand affordable housing. “I have great respect for Tim. … He has a body of experience which I am very attracted to.”
Bannon, who will help Malloy select a budget director who must close the $3.3 billion state budget deficit projected for next fiscal year, is married to Lorraine M. Aronson, another veteran of state government who has the unique distinction of serving on the staff for Democratic, Republican and third-party governors. Aronson was the University of Connecticut’s chief financial officer when she retired from state service two years ago.
Bannon and Wyman did not answer questions following the announcement.
Given the size of the projected deficit he stands to inherit, Malloy said that while he respects Foley’s right to challenge the results, he cannot wait to launch the transition. The successor to Gov. M. Jodi Rell must submit a plan by Feb. 15 to close a fiscal shortfall equal to one-sixth of current spending and one-half of the annual revenue raised by the state income tax.
Malloy, who leads Foley by 3,103 votes with only absentee ballots in heavily Democratic New Haven and Bridgeport still to be counted according to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, said he believes the final margin of victory is closer to 11,000 votes. “I know that that will stand up,” he said. “I expect it will grow.”
The election results faces a possible challenge because of a shortage of ballots that left residents in 12 polling precincts in Bridgeport unable to vote for portions of Tuesday afternoon, prompting a Superior Court judge to order those precincts to remain open for two extra hours.
But Bysiewicz said only about 500 ballots were cast during those extra hours, and that wouldn’t be enough to tip the balance.
Foley and Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy also are objecting the use of photocopies of official ballots in Bridgeport and Hartford to address shortages. Bysiewicz said this procedure not only is legal, but is the solution her office recommends in instances of small shortages. Still, she could not say how many photocopied ballots had been cast, estimating it could be hundreds or thousands.
Foley, who said he believes Bysiewicz’s numbers are wrong, has said it is premature to talk about a potential legal challenge, but he also hasn’t ruled one out.
Foley said he is relying on numbers from registrars of voters from communities across Connecticut that show him in the lead, and said Bysiewicz has not produced any data to him to support her conclusion that Malloy holds an insurmountable 3,103-vote lead.
“We’re quite suspect about that number,” Foley said, adding his staff had not heard back from the secretary of the state’s office. “Nobody is returning our calls.”
The Greenwich businessman added that his transition team announcement was not a political maneuver to match Malloy’s, but rather a matter of sound preparation. “While we acknowledge that the outcome of this race remains uncertain, the next governor needs to be prepared to start work immediately upon swearing in,” he said. “So I am not going to wait until the lead shown in our vote tabulations is confirmed before preparing to take office.”
Malloy declined to criticize Foley launching his own transition effort. “If he believes that he’ll be the governor, he has every right to do what he is doing,” Malloy said.
Rell did not meet with either prospective transition team on Wednesday, the governor’s office said, indicating that final election results haven’t been issued yet.