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Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy Will Not Seek Third Term

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy will not seek re-election. The two-term Democratic governor announced his decision at a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol in Hartford.

In making his announcement, Malloy continually came back to a central theme in his decision: he's already run for governor three times, and it seems that has taken a toll.

"I began my first run for governor on February 3, 2004, more than 13 years ago," Malloy told a room full of reporters, staff members, commissioners, and lawmakers. "And I've obviously had to consider what the future might look like for myself and my family, for the Democratic Party, and for our great state."

After that first run, which ended in a primary defeat to then-New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Malloy ran again in 2010, and narrowly beat businessman Tom Foley, a feat he repeated in 2014.

He inherited a massive budget deficit when he entered office, and went about filling that hole by preaching "shared sacrifice," which included tax increases and concessions from state employees.

But with another $1.4 billion deficit looming, Malloy's popularity has taken a hit. A recent poll found Malloy, the current chair of the Democratic Governors Association, the least popular Democratic governor in the country.

Popularity has never been Malloy's priority. He's called himself a "porcupine," unwilling to sugarcoat his language, and ready to throw his quills at opponents, from Republicans Chris Christie toBobby Jindalto Vice President Mike Pence.

But Malloy's softer side came out during his announcement, when he repeatedly became emotional. "Serving as Connecticut's 88th governor is the the honor of my lifetime, second only to being a father and a husband," he said.

It echoed the restrained emotion he showed often in the months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which killed 26 students and educators. His term also included a series of natural disasters, snowstorms, power outages and hurricanes. 

"He's probably at the stage where he needs to move onto another part of his life," said Bob Duff, State Senate Majority Leader.

He plans to serve out the rest of his term until 2018, but that's a change the driven Malloy seemed to be looking forward to. Gesturing to his wife, Cathy, he said, "We're really happy. I want to finish this job and figure out what we want to do next. We're really happy."

The full text of Malloy's statement is below, via his office.

"I began my first run for Governor on February 3, 2004, more than 13 years ago.  And now, a little past the midway point in my second term, I’ve obviously had to consider what the future might look like for myself and my family, for the Democratic Party, and for our great state.

"I’ve thought a great deal about the areas my administration has tried to prioritize these past six years.  Throughout our work, we’ve tried to play the long-game for Connecticut, not doing what is politically expedient, but rather what we believe is in the best interests of the people we serve today, and for generations still to come.

"I’ve thought about how our state has added more than 74,000 private sector jobs since 2010, and unemployment is now at 4.7 percent – its lowest level since 2007.

"I’ve thought about how we worked across party lines in 2012 to pass comprehensive education reforms, and today our students are some of the best readers in the country, and our graduation rates are now at their highest point in Connecticut’s history.

"I’ve thought about the commonsense and compassionate changes we’ve made to our criminal justice system – changes that are helping us experience our lowest crime rates in generations.

"And I’ve thought about similar progress in so many other areas – energy, affordable housing, transportation, and so much more.

"In all these areas, I am tremendously proud of the undeniable progress we’ve made, but I also know how much is still yet to be done.  I know that Connecticut must continue to change and grow and strive for a more perfect tomorrow – that we must continue to focus on the long-game.

"I know that until anyone who wants a job can have one, until every person in our criminal justice system is treated fairly and equally, until every student has access to a quality education – that we have never done enough, and that there will always be more work to do.

"Inherent in the nature of our Democracy is that no governor, no mayor, or no president for that matter ever sees their vision fully realized.  America, each of its states, and each of its amazing cities and towns, are forever works-in-progress.  Elected leaders at every level are stewards – entrusted to use the time they have to improve the lives of their constituents as best they can.  That’s what I have tried to do every day I’ve held this office, including this one.

"In fact, it’s been said by some that if I were interested in a third term, I might’ve put forward a different looking budget.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but I take it as a compliment.  My proposed budget was built with Connecticut’s best interest in mind, regardless of political consequence for me, or anyone else.  And I intend to make the core principles of that budget a reality in the coming months.

"For that reason, I am today announcing that I will not seek a third term as Governor.

"Instead, I will focus all my attention and energy – I will use all of my political capital from now through the end of 2018 – to continue implementing my administration’s vision for a more sustainable and vibrant Connecticut economy.

"Here’s what that means:

"It means creating a fairer and more equitable system for town aid – a system that includes a more sensible and equitable ECS formula, and a system that responsibly shares the obligations of teachers’ retirement – just as every other state does.

"It means maintaining our commitment to better and more sustainable budget practices.  We will not rely on gimmicks or one-time fixes, we will not push off debts that should be responsibly paid now, and we will not borrow to save ourselves from difficult but necessary reductions in spending.

"And it also means continuing to make our criminal justice system work better for everyone, regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, or how much money they have.  No one should sit in jail simply because they are poor, while others walk free.  And if a young person pays the consequences for a mistake when they are young, those consequences shouldn’t prevent them from eventually taking part in our society, and our economy.

"The decision I have announced today will allow me to focus on these areas fully – not just for the remainder of this session, but for the next 20 months.  In the remainder of my term, my team and I will continue to play the long-game.  We’ll keep fighting for what we believe is in the best interest of Connecticut residents now, and in the future.

"In closing, I want to recognize my wife Cathy who is here today.  She is my partner and my best friend, and it’s only through the love and support of Cathy and our sons that my career as a public servant has been possible.

"I also want to recognize Nancy Wyman.  I’ve made a habit of saying that she is the best Lt. Governor in the United States, and I have meant it every single time.

"And finally, I want to thank my staff and the many, many supporters without whom I would not have been able to do this job.  My message to them this afternoon is simple: thank you… now get back to work.  We have many months ahead, and much work to do.

"Serving as Connecticut’s 88th Governor is the honor of my lifetime, second only to being a father and a husband.  It will continue to be an honor as I work hard – as hard as ever – for the remainder of this term.

"Thank you."

This is a developing story and this post will be updated with more information.

Gov. Malloy speaks at a press conference on April 13, 2017. To his left is his wife, Cathy Malloy, and to his right is Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
Ryan Caron King / WNPR
Gov. Malloy speaks at a press conference on April 13, 2017. To his left is his wife, Cathy Malloy, and to his right is Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff talks to reporters after Malloy's press conference.
Ryan Caron King / WNPR
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff talks to reporters after Malloy's press conference.

Copyright 2017 Connecticut Public Radio

Tucker Ives is WNPR's morning news producer.
John is Executive Editor of the New England News Collaborative, an eight-station consortium of public media newsrooms. He is also the host of NEXT, a weekly program about New England, and appears weekly on The Wheelhouse, WNPR's news roundtable program.