(Updated 12:15 p.m.) Sporting his signature green tie, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Friday that he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman will seek a second term and run for re-election this November.
Malloy, who had been widely expected to run, made it official in response to a question during a routine press conference following Friday’s state Bond Commission meeting.
“Nancy and I have talked about the race and we both reached a mutual conclusion that we should go to the people of Connecticut and ask them for their support to continue the work that we’ve been undertaking,” he said.
Although he had been expected to seek a second term, the governor had previously suggested he would wait until after the legislative session in May to announce. On Friday he said that despite the announcement his approach to the legislative session would not change and he would attempt to avoid being “dragged into the campaign” for as long as he could.
Malloy, the first governor elected under the state’s public campaign finance system, indicated he planned to run a publicly-financed campaign for his second term.
In an appearance on MSNBC Friday morning, Malloy answered several questions pertaining to his re-election without disputing the premise that he would be running. Asked what issues he felt would resonate with voters in November, Malloy touted job growth over the past three years and the state’s firmer budgetary footing compared to when he took office.
“All of that in the last three-and-a-half years. All I’ve got do is get that story out and have people understand it,” he said.
Malloy also answered questions regarding what he anticipated his Republican challengers would use against him. Asked if the gun control restrictions passed last year following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting would be a campaign issue, he said he believed some of his opponents would campaign against him on the topic.
“I suspect they’ll come after me. The NRA has had me on the front page of their magazine, I know they’re coming after me,” he said.
At the press conference, Malloy told reporters he decided to abandon his plan to wait until after the legislation session based on the political rhetoric of his opponents and fundraising considerations. He said “it’s a lot of work” to raise the $250,000 necessary to qualify for public financing.
“I want to be able to hit the ground in May when the session is over. So raising the campaign funds and getting everything — all the ducks in a row — is going to take some amount of time so I thought we should get the job going,” he said. “It just made sense to get the show on the road.”
Malloy said he and Wyman made the determination “very recently.” He said there was never a doubt that, if he were to run again, Wyman would again be his running mate. But “there was some doubt” about whether he would run, he said.
“I just needed to work through some issues. Make sure my wife was signing up again, that Michael [Wyman] was signing up again. We’ve made that decision and we’re ready,” he said.
The Friday announcement was planned in advance of the press conference. Malloy initially deflected a question regarding his re-election in favor of “more substantive matters.” When he returned to the subject minutes later, his campaign operation was up and running. A campaign Twitter account was sending messages to supporters with a profile picture featuring the words “I’m In.”
Soon after, his campaign emailed supporters a fundraising letter in which he had dropped his full first name in favor of the less formal “Dan,” the name he campaigned on in 2010. Malloy began using his given name “Dannel” around the time he was inaugurated as governor and was asked to decide what name would appear on his chair and business cards.
In the email, candidate Malloy said that his focus would remain on his legislative agenda but asked supporters to begin contributing money to his campaign.
“Can I count on you to make a contribution to help move this campaign forward?” he wrote. “There’s so much more I want to share with you, and I will in the coming days and weeks. Right now I humbly ask for your support so we can continue the work to leave this world — this state — a better place for having lived in it.”
In an email to reporters, James Hallinan, who had been working as a spokesman for Connecticut Democrats, said he will serve as Malloy’s campaign spokesman. Jon Blair, who ran a successful campaign for U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, will be Malloy’s campaign manager.
State Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. said Malloy’s announcement was not good news for Connecticut residents.
“Connecticut has suffered the one two punch of Barack Obama and Dan Malloy which has left our economy reeling. We can’t afford four more years of Dan Malloy,” he said.
There are several Republicans vying for the nomination to run against Malloy this year. Tom Foley, the 2010 Republican nominee who lost to Malloy by just 6,000 votes, is running again. Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, Joe Visconti of West Hartford, and two-time Republican Attorney General nominee Martha Dean are also in the race.
A Quinnipiac University poll released this month suggested voters are evenly split between supporting Malloy and Foley in a hypothetical general election matchup. Foley also led the Republican field with 36 percent of the vote with Boughton trailing at 11 percent. The other candidates trailed far behind. Dean was not polled as she was not yet a candidate when it was conducted.
GOP Vice Chairwoman Themis Klarides said she expects the field will solidify soon and Republicans will coalesce around a single candidate.
“Competition is competition. Right now we’re in the meat of this campaign because they’re picking delegates this week. People are fighting for delegates,” she said. “Now is the time that I think somebody differentiates themselves, in the next two months. And I think we have very good candidates.”
Klarides said Republicans have a good shot of winning back the governor’s office this year. She said Malloy now has a record as governor for opponents to run against.
“We have four years of black and white evidence as to why somebody who has a job should not keep his job,” she said. “The highest tax increase in Connecticut’s history. Spending has increased over $3 billion since he took office… People are concerned about the money in their pocket.”