Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election campaign is trying to soften his image with two television ads in the final week before the election.
Malloy, a first-term Democrat in a tight rematch with his 2010 Republican rival Tom Foley, has struggled with high unfavorable ratings in public polls. Malloy has never reached a 50 percent approval rating and in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 52 percent of voters said they have an unfavorable opinion of him.
After spending much of the campaign trying to tear down Foley’s approval rating, the final stretch of Malloy’s ad campaign is aimed at building up the governor’s numbers.
“I have a confession to make, I’m not always that fun-loving guy you might think,” Malloy says in a self-narrated, 30-second ad released Monday. “I know you don’t always agree with me but please know this, throughout Connecticut’s darkest days . . . I’ve always, always looked after you.”
The campaign followed the commercial Tuesday with a one minute TV spot, narrated by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and focusing on Malloy’s response to severe weather events during his first term as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“I know the Dan Malloy that does care,” Wyman says. “His heart was broken just like everybody else’s was when he saw houses devastated, people devastated. Sitting there and talking, every time he saw somebody who was in pain, it hurt Dan Malloy.”
Republicans have characterized Malloy as an “angry guy” and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried reinforce that message at a campaign stop for Foley on Monday night.
“What Dan Malloy does is just play partisan angry politics,” Christie said.
But Foley and his running mate, Heather Bond Somers, have also released a positive ad to close out the final stretch of a negative campaign.
“We’re problem-solvers, consensus builders,” Somers says. “After four years of one-party rule, we’ll bring more cooperation in Hartford.”
“As outsiders, we’re independent thinkers,” Foley says. “We’ll listen to good ideas, no matter which side of the aisle they come from.”
Although the candidates have struck a more positive note in their last TV ads, PACs funded by outside groups are continuing to launch attack ads. On Monday, Grow Connecticut, a PAC supported by the Republican Governors Association, released an ad repeatedly calling Malloy a liar.
“Tired of the lies?” a narrator asks. “Connecticut can do better. Vote for Tom Foley.”
Meanwhile, Connecticut Forward, a PAC supported by the Democratic Governors Association and labor groups, accuses Foley of offering workers at a company he owned a 10-cent raise while making millions for himself and not paying taxes in Connecticut since 2010.
“A mere dime for workers, millions for Tom Foley. Do you really think this guy will ever care about you?” a narrator asks.
In a phone interview earlier this month, Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said the prevalence of negative ads is likely a result of the close nature of the gubernatorial race.
“The conventional wisdom is that when you’re way ahead you don’t have to run negative ads,” he said. “When you’re in a close race or when your negatives outweigh your positives, then you run negative ads.”