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Editorial Grading Gov. Malloy

August 9, 2018

As targets go, trying to nail Gov. Dannel P. Malloy seems as easy as dropping a coin and hoping it strikes the Earth.

The seven Connecticut gubernatorial candidates can’t be expected to heap praise on one of the least popular governors in the United States. So, when the Hearst Connecticut Group Editorial Board asked the candidates if they would stay the course with some Malloy policies, and which they would immediately seek to eradicate, the governor’s shortcomings became an irresistible bulls-eye.

Republican Bob Stefanowski processed the query with a chuckle. There aren’t, after all, too many people tossing garlands at Malloy during the waning months of his eight-year tenure. Stefanowski proceeded by offering Malloy a sum-total of zero kudos.

Former Greenwich hedge fund manager David Stemerman, also a Republican, similarly declined to give Malloy any passing grades.

The typically aggressive Trumbull Republican Tim Herbst weighed both sides, applauding the governor for his work ethic and parroting a phrase that his ricocheted around Malloy’s hometown of Stamford for decades: “Never underestimate Dan Malloy.”

Herbst and Westport Republican Steve Obsitnik also pointed to an action that earned him universal praise - his poised leadership in the hours and days after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 26 students and staff.

Boughton took the left-field approach of crediting Malloy for his efforts to promote sustainable energy, an area we think begs for a much more aggressive vision.

Ever the boxer, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim bobbed and weaved around the question. A Democrat, he shares the most in common with Malloy, who was a contemporary mayor of Stamford during Ganim’s first administration. Rather than assess Malloy, he pointed to how their management styles differ (“mine is bringing people together”).

Over in the ledger’s loss column, Malloy took predictable hits for Connecticut’s fading reputation and efforts to steer Connecticut out of economic distress. Notably, Stemerman attacked the governor for promising to close the pension liability. “It is unfair to our state employees and their families to be promised benefits they can’t receive,” Stemerman said.

The liability, and Malloy’s approach to make it whole, remains a vital distinction as voters decide who to choose in next Tuesday’s primary, and in the final round in November.

We give Malloy credit for being the first Connecticut governor in decades to stop passing the bucks until there are no bucks left. So do Herbst and the other Democrat who is still standing, Greenwich’s Ned Lamont. Lamont opted to assess Malloy’s shortcomings before complimenting his criminal justice reforms and for making a good-faith effort to fund the pensions.

These seven candidates may not share Malloy’s approach to pension debt, but there is no way to deal with the issues and win any popularity contests.

When the next governor’s turn comes, they better be prepared for their coin to drop as well.

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