At a Tuesday campaign stop with governor of Puerto Rico, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he is hoping Latino voters make up 7 or 8 percent of the turnout in next week’s gubernatorial election.
Voters will head to the polls next week to choose between Malloy and his 2010 Republican rival, Tom Foley. On Tuesday, Malloy was at the Pan del Cielo bakery in Hartford with Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, meeting with patrons and taking pictures.
“I would love to see the Latino vote represent 7 or 8 percent of the whole voting population. We build it into our models at about 6 percent,” Malloy told reporters. “The governor and I had a conversation today. One of the reasons I asked him to come, and the reason he was willing to come, was to try to drive that percentage up by 1 full percent, maybe 2.”
García Padilla, who addressed the small crowd in both English and Spanish, pointed to a drop in crime and an increase in job growth during Malloy’s tenure as well as his support for the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state colleges.
“The Latino community needs to go out and vote. I’m here to endorse, I’m here to promote, I’m here to ask every Puerto Rican, every Dominican, every Mexican, every Latino go out and vote for Dan Malloy next Tuesday,” he said.
Malloy said García Padilla will visit urban areas of the state where the Latino population is concentrated. After two stops in Hartford Tuesday the two will travel to New Britain, Waterbury, Bridgeport and New Haven.
Malloy’s overwhelming support in the state’s cities was crucial to his narrow victory over Foley in 2010. Malloy defeated Foley by less than half a percentage point and the Republican won support in typically reliably Democratic suburbs.
But Malloy resisted the suggestion that urban communities were more important to his strategy than more rural towns.
“Voters are spread out across 169 municipalities and we’re going to get votes in every single one of them and every vote is equal to another. Obviously, we win about 40 communities, and where you win, you want to win by a lot. The ones you lose, you want to lose by just a few,” Malloy said. He won about 40 cities and towns in the 2010 election.
At a press conference last week, members of the Hispanic Federation complained that Latinos have been ignored this year by Malloy, Foley and unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti. But all three campaigns say they have made efforts to reach out to the Latino community.
Foley will host former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno Saturday during stops in New Britain and Waterbury. Asked Friday about his outreach efforts, the Republican said he’s done interviews with Univision and is running “Hispanic radio ads.”
“I’ve been in the Bridgeport community and Hartford, a little less, and New Haven, talking to people in the Hispanic community — small business owners,” Foley said. “… I’ve been there quite a bit speaking with people and between now and the election I expect to get back there and walk around.”
The governor rejected Foley’s expectation of closing the traditional Democratic advantage in the state’s cities. Following a brief interview with reporters, García Padilla also took a parting shot at Foley. He picked up on criticism that the wealthy businessman has not had any taxable income since 2010.
“He should say if he’s going to pay taxes next year,” García Padilla said.
Malloy, who had already turned away from reporters, heard the remark. “Oh, hey—there you go!”
According to state officials there are an estimated 149,000 registered Latino voters in Connecticut based on a surname survey. Latino groups believe the number is much higher.
And even though a majority of the registered Latinos are Democrats, there were several Latino groups, including lawmakers, unhappy with Malloy’s decision earlier this year not to house undocumented children fleeing South American countries in state-owned facilities.
A group of Latino activists protested in Bridgeport earlier this month when President Barack Obama was scheduled to stump there for Malloy. The protest stemmed from concerns that the state Correction Department honored a federal detainer request for an undocumented immigrant. The protest went on despite Obama cancelling then rescheduling the trip.
In Hartford Tuesday, Mayor Pedro Segarra picked up on another of the Malloy campaign’s recent themes: that the governor has made decisions that have not been popular with everyone.
“This is a governor that doesn’t always—he’s not always warm and fuzzy because he’s had to make difficult choices, right? But beneath all that is a lot of passion to do really good work on behalf of the people of Connecticut,” he said.