Public office: Assistant District Attorney Brooklyn, 1980 to 1984; Mayor of Stamford, 1995 to 2009.
Current position: Senior Director, Class Green Capital Partners
Background: Dannel P. Malloy became the Democratic nominee for governor with a stunningly strong come-from-behind win against the better known and self-funded Ned Lamont, who had picked off Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in a primary four years earlier.
Malloy is running on a message that is a mix of fiscal discipline, social liberalism and his experience as mayor of Stamford. His campaign offers a blunt indictment of the popular incumbent, Republican M. Jodi Rell, who is not seeking re-election.
He says Connecticut is badly in need of more aggressive leadership on jobs, energy and health policy. He likes to point out that Connecticut has badly lagged under 16 years of Republican governors and that the state has the highest electric rates in the continental United States. And from 1989 to 2008, Connecticut and Michigan were the only two states to experience a net loss of jobs.
Malloy was the first statewide candidate to qualify for public financing of his campaign under the Citizens’ Election Program. But in the general election, he faces another self-funded wealthy, though first-time, candidate in Tom Foley.
As mayor of Stamford, Malloy capitalized on the city’s proximity to New York, attracting major financial companies and thousands of new jobs. He also claims credit for bring more housing to downtown Stamford and establishing a system of pre-kindergarten education.
A successful record as the mayor of a resurgent Fairfield County city has been of limited value to his statewide campaigns. Stamford is outside the Hartford-New Haven television market that reaches most Connecticut voters, especially its Democrats. But with Foley also a Fairfield County resident, Malloy’s record is likely to serve him even better in the general election campaign than it did in the primary.
Malloy has demonstrated a resilience in the face of political and personal difficulties. His political career survived allegations of showing favoritism as mayor to contractors who did work on his house or made contributions to his campaigns. In 2005, the chief state’s attorney’s office exonerated him after a 17-month investigation though the issue reappeared in a blistering negative ad campaign against him in the primary. Last year, his middle son’s long struggle with mental illness became public after an arrest on drug and robbery charges. His son pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence.
Malloy’s progressive credentials include his early and unequivocal support of gay marriage and his staunch opposition to the death penalty, a potential wedge issue in the general election. Rell vetoed a bill to abolish the death penalty.
He acknowledged that could be an especially sensitive at a time when the first of two defendants in the Cheshire home invasion case is about to go to trial.
“We are going to have a very high-profile death-penalty trial in Connecticut, but that doesn’t change my core beliefs that it is not a core function of government to put people to death. It should not be a function of government,” Malloy said. “And there is absolutely no connection between the death penalty and preventing or discouraging homicides from taking place.”
He says he would have signed other major bills vetoed by Rell, notably two health reform bills and an energy reform measure. He also favors legislation favored by the Working Families Party and elements of organized labor that would require companies with more than 50 employees to offer paid sick days.
His stump speech this year has a sharper focus on his personal narrative, the story of a young boy who struggled with learning severe disabilities and was physically uncoordinated. He grew up in Stamford, the seventh of eight children.
“A lot of people thought I was stupid. My mother didn’t think that,” Malloy said. “I was a good communicator orally, although I couldn’t read or write very well.”
Malloy still struggles with the written word, preferring to process information orally. Despite the handicap, he graduated from Boston College with honors, then earned a law degree from Boston College Law School.
After a stint as a prosecutor in New York, Malloy returned to Stamford, joined a law firm and entered politics.
In 2006, Malloy made his first run for governor, winning the endorsement of the Democratic State Convention by a single vote, then lost a close primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., but In what he says is his last shot at the office, Malloy exudes an intensity.
“This is it,” Malloy said in an interview in January with The Mirror, before he officially announced his candidacy. “I am either going to be elected governor, or I am going to ride off into the sunset.”
Education: B.A., Boston College; J.D., Boston College
Personal: Malloy, 55, is married to Cathy Malloy, the director of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Education Center. They are the parents of three sons and live in Stamford.