BRISTOL — During an election year meeting of the Crocodile Club, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joked that he would be repeating the name of third party candidate Joe Visconti often until Election Day.
Visconti is a conservative gubernatorial candidate who petitioned his way onto the November ballot and could draw Republican votes away from Malloy’s rival Tom Foley.
“I’m going to spend the next 60 days repeating the name ‘Visconti’ as often as I can. Whenever I give a speech, I’m going to say ‘Visconti.’ Whenever I’m walking down the street I’m going to say ‘Visconti.’ Whenever I enter a room I’m going to say ‘I think people need to get to know you better and all that you stand for,” he said to Visconti who sat nearby.
Jokes are a departure for the governor who, early in his first term, told reporters “I don’t do humor well.” Malloy has delivered serious speeches at the traditionally lighthearted holiday meeting of Middlesex Chamber of Commerce three years in a row.
But he put his usual seriousness aside Friday for the Crocodile Club, an annual political gathering at Bristol’s Lake Compounce amusement park. The event celebrates legislation that moved the town line between Bristol and Southington more than a century ago. The entertainment is billed as three-minute, nonpartisan speeches from elected officials and candidates.
Malloy warned the audience he was out of practice.
“If my jokes make you feel a little sick, there’s a bathroom on that side of the hall,” he said. “Just work your way back. Unless [U.S. Sen. Richard] Blumenthal’s in your way and going for a camera. Then you’re on your own.”
During his short remarks, Malloy made light of his historically close victory over Foley in 2010 and his consistently low polling numbers.
“I have an important announcement today: As of today, in the Malloy household, my numbers are over 50 percent,” he said. “So, you’ve gotta give me credit for that, you know?”
He said his 6,404-vote victory over Foley has made his personal life a bit difficult.
“Winning a close race really sucks. My wife holds it over my head. She says ‘Dan, take out the trash or I’m going to change my vote. Cook dinner tonight, Dan, or I’m going to vote for the other guy,’” Malloy said. “It’s not been a pleasant thing in the Malloy household the last three and a half years.”
Malloy said things have been tough for Foley as well. He joked that Foley, a wealthy Greenwich businessman, has also had to make difficult choices, like whether to take the BMW or the Maserati.
Foley did not attend the Crocodile Club, according to his running mate Heather Bond Somers, because he couldn’t think of anything negative to say about Malloy. Somers didn’t have that problem.
“It’s great to be here at Lake Compounce. When they told me today’s event was going to be held in a fantasy land setting, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be here or the governor’s office,” she said.
Somers said she did want to credit Malloy for helping to create so many small businesses during his tenure.
“Unfortunately, they used to be big businesses,” she added.
Somers said she was ready to get to work as lieutenant governor on “Day One. Those ceremonial ribbons are not going to cut themselves.”
Visconti also addressed the crowd but some of his jokes were out of the political arena. Like the one about the turtle mugged by two snails. The turtle said, “Officer, I don’t know it all happened so fast,” he said.