Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s name isn’t on the ballot today, but you wouldn’t know it from the Republican Party’s rhetoric, robocalls, or mailers.
Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said with a 32 percent approval rating Malloy is unpopular and Democratic mayors and first selectman have done nothing to speak out against his policies.
The newly-elected chairman of the state’s minority party believes the message is going to resonate with voters. He said they’re hearing about how much voters disapprove of Malloy when they knock on doors.
But Malloy, who greeted volunteers at Connecticut Democratic Party headquarters in Hartford Monday night, said he beat the Republican Party’s candidates for governor in 2014 by 28,000 votes.
“They forget that,” Malloy said.
He said the governor runs every four years and he’s not on the ballot today.
“Local elections are just that. They’re local elections,” Malloy said. “Sure there’s a little carryover flavor from anything that’s going on at any particular point, but I’m pretty proud to be governor and we’re getting some work done.”
Romano admitted that there’s an element of truth to what Malloy said about local elections being about local issues.
“All politics is certainly to some extent local, but when Republicans are in charge good things happen,” Romano said Monday in a phone interview.
Republicans are the top local elected official in about 90 cities and towns and Romano said they expect to hold onto most of those seats today.
In the meantime, the Republican Party is hoping its attempts to define their Democratic opponents will carry over into 2016. Again, Malloy won’t be on the ballot, but Republicans are hoping to pick up additional seats in both the state House and the Senate.
However, the Democratic Party has been investing in the technology it needs for a robust ground game, which has helped it elect an all-Democratic congressional delegation and maintain control of the state House and Senate.
VoterBuilder and the CT VAN database are the tools the Democratic Party has given its municipal candidates to use to help them reach voters. The database was developed by NGP VAN, which also helped President Barack Obama’s campaign mine data and target potential contributors.
“I’m proud of our party’s ability to respond to local needs, not just in the every four-year elections, or the legislative elections, but if local parties need help we’re able to lend that,” Malloy said. “And to a higher degree than most states.”
About 30 volunteers packed a room at the Democratic Party’s headquarters in Hartford Monday to make calls to remind people to get to the polls today.
Luke Bronin, the Democratic candidate for mayor in Hartford, was also on hand Monday.
He said municipal elections are about making sure “we are living out our values and our principles in our communities where we have the ability to make change close to home.”
Malloy predicted that Bronin, who defeated Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra in a September primary, will win today.
“I think the Hartford race was the primary,” Malloy, who lives and votes in Hartford, said. “I don’t want to discourage anybody from getting out to vote . . . but I think Luke ran a great primary campaign.”
Other closely watched contests include Bridgeport, where the Democratic Party endorsed former mayor and convicted felon Joe Ganim. Mary-Jane Foster is running as an independent against Ganim, and Enrique Torres is the Republican in the race.
Malloy said he knows there are some concerns about the polls down in Bridgeport, but he said he is confident Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has it under control.
Merrill told Foster’s campaign on Monday that it can’t fulfill her request to have “unofficial checkers” at every polling place in Bridgeport. She said the state does have an existing program to monitor polls throughout the state through a partnership with the Connecticut Bar Association. A team of volunteer attorneys who have been trained in election procedures will monitor conditions and respond to problems, according to Merrill.
“I am well are of the problems that have arisen in Bridgeport in the past, and the current allegations, and do not dismiss your concerns,” Merrill wrote in a letter to Foster’s campaign manager, Tom Swan. “In fact I put our current program into place after the local election officials failed a basic requirement of an election in 2010: to have enough ballots.”
Malloy said if Ganim is elected mayor he will be treated the same way as any other local elected official.
“It’s an unusual election and will probably receive one way or another some national attention for its notoriety,” Malloy said. “But when the votes are counted, whoever is mayor is who we’re going to work with.”
Merrill said she expects voter turnout to be around 30 percent, but “that will vary greatly from town to town.”