The first two parts of Ted Mann’s three-week, behind-the-scenes look at Gov. Dannel Malloy’s first year were a nicely written setup of what’s to come. He gave an overview and an introduction to Malloy’s staff, the characters of the piece. But let’s be honest, they lacked what the Capitol insiders were waiting for: gossip-worthy tidbits about what Malloy and his staff said in unguarded moments about other players.

Today, Mann delivers as he focuses on the hard, cold politics of the budget, including a look at the relationship between the first Democratic governor in 20 years and House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, a congressional candidate and former union organizer who is organized labor’s most important ally at the Capitol. 

The piece describes the frank discussions about why certain cuts and tax increase will be proposed, knowing they will never fly. They talk about why a certain DMV office is off-limits, why the Connecticut River ferries will never die. But the gossip value is the news that Donovan wanted to make approval of the entire budget contingent on the unions’ approval of the concessions and other labor savings sought by Malloy. The Malloyalists are aghast.

From Mann’s story:

“Yeah,” Occhiogrosso says. “That that suggestion would even be entertained is mind-boggling to me. This is somebody who wants to run for Congress? In a district that has conservative –“

Malloy cuts him off.

“All right, all right, all right, all right. I understand your frustrations. I even explored some of my own personal frustrations with him.”

His senior adviser guffaws. “You `explored?’ “

“A journey of self discovery!” Bannon crows.

“In a proctological sense?” Occhiogrosso asks.

“I don’t think he was ever redder,” Malloy responds, grinning and evidently pleased with himself. “That’s what Nancy said: `I don’t think I’ve ever seen him redder than when you were talking to him.’ “

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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