New Haven – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy paid a visit Tuesday to the city that produced his biggest plurality in 2010, publicizing a $1 million state grant for a long-delayed community project, one of the benefits of incumbency.
Malloy was greeted by Mayor Toni Harp and TV cameras outside the vacant Dixwell Q House, an abandoned community center the city hopes to demolish and replace with a facility that could house a health center, library branch and afterschool program.
“We know our governor shares that vision with us for a next generation of the Dixwell Q House, and we’re so grateful that he’s back in our city today for this major announcement,” Harp said, standing on weathered asphalt where children used to play basketball.
Malloy said he and the mayor have a common vision for improving cities like New Haven.
But the “major announcement” – the availability of funds to begin design work – was not exactly news: Originally appropriated in 2011, the funding was allocated three weeks ago by the Bond Commission, whose agenda is controlled by Malloy.
Malloy, a first-term Democrat tied in early polling with Republican Tom Foley, the man he defeated by just 6,404 votes in 2010, needs Harp, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and other New Haven supporters to replicate the strong turnout the city generated four years ago.
The governor carried the city in 2010 by 18,606 votes. Foley has said he will run an urban campaign this year, trying to depress Malloy’s margins in the big cities of New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford.
Harp, who was the Senate co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee when Malloy took office, made the Q House a priority during her mayoral campaign last summer, when Malloy lent his support during a primary and general election.
She and Looney, who is set to be elected Senate president pro tem if Democrats retain control of the Senate this fall, are important allies in the city. With Harp’s support, Looney’s chief of staff Vincent Mauro Jr. was favored to be elected Tuesday night as the city’s next Democratic chairman, according to the New Haven Independent.
The brief event Tuesday will be a campaign talking point for Democrats this summer, a reminder of the benefits of having a friend in the governor’s office.
“This is one of the strong Democratic areas in the city of New Haven,” Looney said after the event. “The Newhallville-Dixwell area has the potential for strong turnout. It’s not always realized, but it does generate substantial numbers.”
Malloy, 58, a former Stamford mayor, will not announce his re-election until after the General Assembly adjourns its 2014 session May 7.
Foley faces five candidates in the GOP contest: Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney of Fairfield, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Joseph Visconti of West Hartford and Martha Dean of Avon.