Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that he will not seek a third term as the governor of Connecticut.
Malloy became the 88th governor of Connecticut in 2011. In 2014, Malloy defeated Republican gubernatorial challenger Tom Foley in a close race.
"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," Malloy said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.
The choice not to run he says was made in stages. The first time was last August, and has nothing to do with his lackluster approval ratings.
"I'm very comfortable and happy with the decision I've made. I look forward to the next 20 months and then I look forward to the next 20 years,” Malloy said.
During the often emotional announcement, the governor touted his accomplishments, from adding more than 74,000 private sector jobs since 2010 and getting unemployment to 4.7 percent, the lowest level since 2007.
"I think we've done a damn good job quite frankly and I think that's why we were reelected,” Malloy said.
With this major decision behind him, the governor says it's back to work. He'll now focus on the budget in the coming months.
“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,” he said. "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."
Democrats say now that Malloy has made his decision, he can focus on the challenges with the state budget.
"He's going to continue working hard until his last day in office and he's going to make sure we have a budget that is balanced and works for the long term in the state of Connecticut,” said Democratic Majority Leader State Senator Bob Duff.
Republicans said the governor has relied too much on spending, and not enough on cuts and long-term solutions.
"Democrats and their policies have put us in this position. We are looking at budget hole of $3 billion. It’s a difficult year for him,” said State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton).
Malloy and democrats are proud of their record on improving education, along with adding private sector jobs, criminal justice reform, and reducing unemployment.
But his tax increases, and failure to reduce huge budget deficits, has cost him.
The latest poll taken by the Morning Consult shows Malloy with an approval rating of 29 percent, the worst of all 50 governors.
Tom Reynolds, a political science professor at the University of New Haven, said he is not surprised by the governor's decision.
"Recent approval rating polls, made very clear that he was facing unprecedented unpopularity with the voters of Connecticut and that makes it very hard to recover from in the 18 months between now and reelection,” Reynolds said.
He expects the field of potential replacements for Malloy to increase, but whoever gets the job will have their hands full.
"The governor was facing a difficult choice, he inherited an unprecedented budget deficit, he has alleviated the fiscal crisis facing Connecticut, but he was unable to solve it and any democrat or republican that seeks to replace him will be confronted with the same entrenched public policy dilemma."
Residents said they have ideas about what they want the next governor to prioritize.
"Taxes coming down quite a bit, I think that's driving a lot of my friends and family out of Connecticut,” said Diane Salmoiraghi, of Newington.
"Spending is out control, that's the biggest thing, jobs are leaving, we can't really say we are in good shape,” said Vinnie Mure of Cromwell.
Democratic National Committeewoman and former Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy DiNardo said they "would not be the party we are today without Dan Malloy."
“I was proud to serve as chair when he was elected governor in 2010 and throughout his first term. The decision today only solidifies Governor Malloy’s commitment to the task and obligation of leading our party and our state. As I've seen and learned up close, he has always focused on building a stronger future for our candidates, our elected officials, and our state, no matter if it’s politically expedient. As Connecticut's Democratic National Committeewoman, I know well that our national party continues to benefit from his leadership and his commitment to the causes in which he believes," DiNardo said in a statement on Thursday.
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) thanked the governor for his service to Connecticut.
"While we may not always see eye to eye, I respect him greatly for his tireless work ethic and dedication to Connecticut. Governor Malloy has led our state during some of its most difficult times and enormous economic challenges. He has governed when our communities had to rebuild following devastating storms and when we all had to heal following unspeakable tragedy. I thank the Governor for his service and look forward to continuing to work with him through the remainder of his term," Fasano said in a statement on Thursday.
“I have enormous respect for Governor Malloy. The entire state has a deep appreciation for his guidance through the most difficult time in the state’s history, in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. In these difficult times, he always led with principle-centered leadership. I thank him for his service to the State of Connecticut,” said Congressman John Larson.
Senator Richard Blumenthal released a statement, which said “Dan Malloy demonstrated strong leadership in challenging times. He will be appreciated for seminal contributions on gun violence prevention, transportation and infrastructure investment, environmental protection and other areas. I know that he will continue his advocacy on these important issues."
Malloy made the announcement at 2 p.m. at the State Capitol. To read his full remarks, click here.
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