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Mr. Malloy goes to Washington?

Candidates for major offices are often asked if they intend to serve their full terms once elected or if they plan to use the office as a stepping stone to a loftier position.

The question is normally reserved for popular candidates who are clearly going places, usually Washington, D.C., so it wasn't top of mind for voters in the recent Connecticut election. Nobody asked Dannel P. Malloy or Tom Foley if he intended to serve his full, four-year term should the voters favor either of them with a victory. You might even say nobody thought of it.

But after winning re-election on a really bad night for Democrats and doing so without disowning his Democratic president, Dannel Malloy is suddenly a hero, and a liberal hero at that.

Maybe not in Connecticut, where his promise of no deficit lasted about 11 days, or in the Tri-State area, where he's still the third most popular governor. But things have improved for Dan Malloy around the country wherever Democratic professionals gather to look at the dimly lit brighter side of Campaign 2014.

To review: While losing control of the U.S. Senate to the Republican Party, Democrats also lost the governorships of deep Blue states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. This means governor's offices will become a breeding ground for Republican presidential candidacies, once the party gets over its flirtation with senatorial fringe players like Ted Cruz.

Ohio, the "Mother of Presidents," having produced eight, has another to offer in incumbent John Kasich, and Scott Walker, once left for dead in Wisconsin after a battle with the state's public employee unions, won a second term and presidential mentions. And, of course, there's Jeb Bush, not to mention Mitt.

Other GOP incumbents who were expected to lose, Like Sam Brownback in Kansas, Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Snyder in Michigan, held on, along with incumbents in Maine, Oregon and Oklahoma. That's a lot of Republicans, leaving the rare Democratic victory shining brighter.

The New York Times determined there were only a dozen gubernatorial races too close to call and when the night ended, nine of them had gone Republican and only three were won by Democrats: John Hickenlooper in Colorado, Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island and Malloy.

This made those three rather special. Raimondo won an open race in Rhode Island, despite having lost favor with the public employee unions. And Hickenlooper and Malloy became the only Democratic incumbents to win tossup races.

Much was made of the fact that President Obama wasn't invited to too many states where Democrats were endangered and candidates he campaigned for in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maryland, Maine and Pennsylvania lost.

But Malloy welcomed the president, if only to strongholds like Hartford and Bridgeport, and successfully supported Obama-endorsed reforms like increasing the minimum wage and passing the nation's first earned sick time and strongest gun control laws.

So now what? A Connecticut governor hasn't been given a Cabinet post since an extremely grateful John Kennedy named Abe Ribicoff secretary of health, education and welfare 54 years ago.

It was midway in Ribicoff's second term and elevated Lt. Gov. John Dempsey to governor for the next 10 years.

Not long after his victory, The Connecticut Post quoted Gov. Malloy saying the right things about the future: "I'll play a leadership role if my colleagues want me" and "I love being the governor of the state of Connecticut."

Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd taught the party that Connecticut doesn't readily produce presidents or even vice presidents and Malloy isn't about to change that. But he'd make a logical choice for the second tier of the Cabinet - HUD or Transportation, say. His relationship with various teachers' unions might preclude something like Labor or Education. We could soon discover the 2014 election wasn't about Malloy or Foley, but Nancy Wyman.

As Jodi Rell taught us, a nice, capable lieutenant governor can serve out her predecessor's term and go on to win in her own right even when her predecessor goes to jail. Wyman's will have done no worse than joining the Obama administration.

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