When he took office, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy was hailed as a harbinger of the progressive future of the Democratic party. He would combat inequality in the great white state of Connecticut, home of carnivorous hedge fund managers and long-suffering blue collar workers alike. Yet six years into his tenure, Connecticut is struggling and Malloy’s approval ratings are among the lowest of any American politician’s. City Journal has more:
In politics, dreams can turn quickly into nightmares. Just ask Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy. Not long ago, the Daily Beast touted him as the “dream progressive governor” who raised taxes, boosted the minimum wage, introduced mandatory paid sick leave, tightened gun control, and still managed to get reelected. Feeling his oats, Malloy even challenged other Democrats to “grow a pair” by sticking to their progressive principles. That was barely 18 months ago, but it seems an entire political lifetime.
Now, Malloy is being attacked by supporters of progressivism’s standard bearer, Bernie Sanders, for not being faithful to the cause. The criticism comes even as the governor has alienated the state’s business community, provoked criticism from Wall Street for his fiscal management, and garnered among the lowest approval ratings from the general population of any current governor. It’s hard to alienate so many people across the ideological spectrum so thoroughly, but Malloy has managed to do it.
Connecticut is a state with deep fiscal problems. Malloy’s biggest miscalculation was his belief that he could sock residents and businesses with taxes and regulations and then somehow rely on the economy to bail him out. Malloy rammed through a $2 billion tax increase in 2011, promising unspecified budget savings to help balance the books. He cut a mere 1,000 jobs out of a state workforce of 58,000, made only modest reforms to Connecticut’s deeply indebted pension system, and declared victory. Enough residents believed him that he eked out a narrow electoral triumph in 2014.
The fall of Malloy is an instructive tale, and you should read the whole thing.
Alas, the Republican Party doesn’t seem to have a promising replacement for the Blue Model either. If Connecticut was the great Democratic hope, Kansas was the great Republican hope. There, Governor Sam Brownback went all-out starving the beast and the results haven’t been pretty. Clearly, both parties are in need of some new and creative ideas.