New Haven — Kermit Carolina, an educator running for mayor, gave Gov. Dannel P. Malloy a vivid lesson Tuesday on the downside of endorsing a candidate in a Democratic primary.

As reporters and photographers watched, Carolina confronted the Democratic governor outside a polling place, admonishing him for his decision to endorse and campaign for state Sen. Toni Harp in the mayoral primary.

“So, why now governor?” Carolina asked Malloy, as the governor ended a press availability. “Why come now?”

Malloy smiled, offered his hand and tried to begin a conversation, but Carolina didn’t want a dialogue. He accused Malloy of interfering in local Democratic business, the matter of choosing a successor to Mayor John DeStefano.

“Why now? Is it because of your political interest? Is it because of your own political interest?” Carolina asked, firing question after question. “We needed you here a long time ago.”

Malloy said his endorsement of Harp, the long-time co-chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, was based on respect and a professional relationship. The governor also made an endorsement in Stamford, backing a friend, state Rep. William Tong.

“Why are you interfering with the will of the people?” Carolina asked.

Malloy responded in calm, measured words that were drown out by Carolina.

“I respect you, sir, but I’m very disappointed you didn’t wait” for a primary winner, he said.

“Let me be very clear. If you win the primary as a Democratic candidate, I will support you,” Malloy said.

“I appreciate that,” Carolina said.

“Let me shake your hand,” Malloy said.

They shook, and the governor moved on.

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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