Gov.-elect Dan Malloy said early this week he is reserving judgment on whether to replace the state’s top education official, but a few days later gave a pretty strong hint: He told reporters he had asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan if he knew of any likely prospects for the job.

Duncan and Malloy sat at the same table at an Obama Administration lunch for incoming governors Thursday. Later he said he and Duncan had talked shop, and Malloy asked the secretary to send along any names of qualified candidates.

State Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan has expressed interest in staying on in a Malloy administration.

Colleen Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Malloy, said Malloy “welcomes all applicants, including the current commissioner, who are qualified, energetic and share his commitment to education reform and excellence. He looks forward to discussing this appointment with members of the Board of Education.”

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