Cheshire — Dan Drew and Liz Linehan repudiated the approach of fellow Democrat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to taxes, labor issues and economic development Wednesday as they introduced themselves as a team seeking the Democratic nominations for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
By calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and opposition to demanding concessions from public-sector unions, the team is distancing itself from Malloy and appealing to important constituencies in Democratic primaries, while providing fodder for Republican attacks in the general election.
Drew said he was unconcerned by being tabbed as too liberal.
“We shouldn’t be ashamed of working on prosperity for the working people of Connecticut,” Drew said. “Somehow the Republicans have made supporting working people a dirty word. They’ve made the idea that progressive ideas and progressive policies that are rooted in building the economy from the bottom up are somehow anathema.”
Drew, 37, the mayor of Middletown, eschewed traditional considerations of geographic balance and convention mathematics by choosing Linehan, 43, a first-term state representative from Cheshire, a well-to-do suburb that cannot provide significant numbers of convention delegates or primary voters.
Drew opened an exploratory campaign in January, then declared his candidacy for governor in July. Naming a running mate eight months before the nominating convention is unconventional, a step that gives him a surrogate, but rules out recruiting a candidate from a city with major blocs of delegates.
He raised and spent $177,000 in his exploratory campaign. Drew and Linehan each will raise money through candidate committees and seek public financing, but they will have the option of pooling funds should Drew fall short of the $250,000 in qualifying contributions necessary to obtain a gubernatorial grant.
Drew said he feels a personal chemistry with Linehan and admires her principles and her reputation as a tireless campaigner. He said he was attracted by Linehan’s “ability to govern extraordinarily well, to identify with the lives of the people of Connecticut and to carry out the responsibility of the office.”
Neither mentioned Malloy by name, but even the choice of locale for their announcement, a privately owned aerospace company with a unionized workforce, Consolidated Industries, was meant to draw a contrast with the governor, whose administration has borrowed millions to provide economic aid.
“Just last year, Consolidated invested over $10 million of their own money, not taxpayer money, not corporate handouts,” Linehan said. “It was their own money, and they expanded. They invested in new equipment. They invested in the safety of their employees. They invested in the environment.”
Drew cast himself and Linehan as unapologetic progressives who are calling for the legalization of marijuana, single-payer health care, free tuition for higher education, and support for public K-12 schools, not private non-profits behind the charter movement.
“What we’ve done in this state and across the country is trickle-down economics,” Drew said. “We’ve subsidized the wealthy and corporations at the expense of developing our work force. We turn over public school funds to private corporations, while our schools struggle under a regressive tax structure.”
Drew, who has said in an interview he would not have sought the concessions obtained by the Malloy administration from state employees, said they were allies of labor.
“We will fight for the rights to organize and collectively bargain,” he said. “We’ll fight for jobs that pay a living wage. We’ll fight for economic development that’s rooted in worker training rather than in corporate welfare. We’ll fight for a single-payer health care system, because universal health care should be our guiding principle.”
Drew was accompanied by his wife, Kate, and their four children; Linehan by her husband, Brian, and their three children.
Linehan said their message to voters will be they are their neighbors, with the same struggles, values and concerns. They are opposed to the cuts in municipal aid proposed by Malloy and his demand that municipalities began contributing to the cost of an underfunded statewide system of teacher pensions.
“We’re your neighbors who simply cannot afford a supplement pro-tax bill to pay for the mistakes of the past,” Linehan said.
Drew is the only declared Democratic candidate for governor, while Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, former state Sen. Jonathan Harris and Chris Mattei, a former federal prosecutor, have exploratory campaigns.