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Hartford — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman accepted the Democratic nomination for governor and lieutenant governor Friday evening in front of a crowd of more than 1,800 delegates at the Connecticut Democratic Convention in Hartford.
Incumbents for other statewide offices also accepted their nominations from Democratic delegates under the theme “I won’t back down.”
“Our vision for the future is clear,” Malloy said. “We will continue to make historic investments in education, from universal pre-K to college and beyond. We will continue to invest in small businesses because we know that creates jobs. … And yes, we have made down payments on the future and we have made progress together, but we are not done yet.”
Malloy started his acceptance speech by thanking his family, military service members and the Democrats in the room and went on to describe the challenges he said the state has overcome under his leadership. He said Republicans wouldn’t acknowledge the state’s improved situation and would make false promises.
Malloy is headed for a tight rematch with gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, who, according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, has as much support from voters as Malloy. Each candidate received 43 percent of surveyed voters’ support on May 9. In 2010, Malloy beat Foley by half a percentage point.
Republicans were holding their state convention Friday evening and this morning to nominate candidates for Nov. 4. They will determine today who they will nominate for governor and whether there will be a Republican primary. There are currently five candidates vying for governor: Foley, a Greenwich businessman, state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and former West Hartford Town Councilor Joe Visconti.
Local Democratic delegates said they had a tight race ahead of them but that Malloy has clearly supported eastern Connecticut.
“The governor has done more for eastern Connecticut than any governor has done in decades,” said New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. The administration has supported brownfields cleanup, funding for the U.S. Coast Guard Museum, funding for magnet schools and education in general, he said. State Rep. Timothy Bowles, D-Preston, and New London City Council members Efrain Dominguez and Erica Richardson, agreed that Malloy had supported the region but that there was an uphill battle ahead.
It’s going to be a “highly politicized race,” Bowles said. “Foley is clearly going to be a force to be reckoned with again. I happen to believe that he would not be the best candidate for southeastern Connecticut.”
Finizio said the Democrats were united behind Malloy, unlike the Republicans, who might hold a primary. “We still have to work to get the vote out,” the mayor said. “What we have to do is make sure we work like we’re behind 1 million votes.”
‘Tough choices’ made
To a crowd waving blue and white “Malloy, Wyman” signs, Malloy said the state faced a poor economy and a $3.67 billion deficit four years ago because of short-term thinking and Band-Aid solutions. Since then, Connecticut has made “tough choices” and helped turn the state around, he said.
Lawmakers balanced the state budget through “shared sacrifices,” raised the minimum wage, increased training for the long-term unemployed, invested in universal pre-kindergarten and made investments in infrastructure that will create jobs, he said.
Connecticut has created more than 52,000 private-sector jobs since Malloy took office, and Connecticut’s unemployment rate is below 7 percent for the first time in 5½ years.
The state has invested in bioscience, digital media and advanced manufacturing, and is “poised for growth and primed to strengthen every corner of our state,” Malloy said.
Malloy has led by investing in children, supporting veterans and lowering energy rates, Wyman said, adding that the governor sometimes has “sharp elbows, but I’ve seen a side of him that he doesn’t always show.”
She said she has seen him grieve for fallen soldiers, citizens facing storms and families facing tragedies. Malloy is a strong leader who is unafraid to make tough decisions, she said.
“We need four more years,” Wyman said.
‘We’re going to win’
Malloy said Republicans would tell everyone to forget what they’ve seen during the past 3½ years and make “absurd” and “false” promises.
“They’ll blame me for everything but the weather and, you know what, come to think of it, they probably blame me for the storms, too,” Malloy said.
Four of the five Republican candidates have proposed cutting taxes and giving more local control to the education system. They also said they were willing to take another look at post-Newtown gun-control legislation. Republican lawmakers have said Malloy is leaving the next governor with a $2.7 billion deficit for the two-year budget that starts July 1, 2015, and that the public is not better off than it was four years ago.
Malloy said the Republican gubernatorial candidates' promises could only be kept if they cut public education, undo health care progress and lay off workers. The state has come too far to be short-changed, he said.
“Let me be perfectly clear, we are not going to let them distort our record, deny our progress or deceive their way into the Capitol,” Malloy said. “We're going to win, make no mistake about it.”
The delegates also nominated incumbents Denise Merrill for secretary of the state, Denise Nappier for state treasurer, Kevin Lembo for state comptroller and George Jepsen for attorney general.
Merrill said she was proud of the state’s record on expanding voting rights and making voting easier. Nappier said the state was better funding state pensions and had converted to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. GAAP is an accounting method that matches income earned and expenses incurred in the same time period.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Nappier was always on the state’s side and state Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said she has saved taxpayers money by prudently managing billions of pension assets.
Lembo said he loved his job and would continue to work toward transparency and accountability. Jepsen said he has taken on national banks about home loans and foreclosures and reached a settlement that provided relief for residents.
“We will continue to move Connecticut forward to a strong and vibrant future,” Jepsen said.