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Wednesday, April 25 Local

Gov. Malloy endorsed for second term

Governor touts record in accepting nomination to run for second term

HARTFORD -- More than 1,700 Connecticut Democrats gathered Friday in a no-surprises convention to endorse Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for a second term.

Malloy immediately positioned himself against the budget-reduction policies of some Republican governors and -- coincidentally -- any challenger who may emerge from the Connecticut GOP.

"In Pennsylvania, they cut education funding by nearly one billion dollars," said Malloy, who suddenly emerged from backstage after a brief video featuring supporters who benefited from his first term. "In Georgia, you can now bring a gun into an airport, a church and even a school. Oklahoma passed a law making it harder to raise the minimum wage."

In a partisan line that is bound to be repeated in the months leading to Election Day, Malloy said other states may have little relevance to life in Connecticut.

"But these examples remind us that while Republicans around the country are forcing debates that belong in the 19th century, Connecticut is leading the nation in making progress for the 21st century," he said. "While we have more work to do, we're on the right path, and we're moving forward. In Connecticut, we didn't try to balance budgets by cutting dollars from our classrooms. We invested in our children and strengthened our schools from pre-K to college."

The 10-minute, partisan-packed address culminated with a standing ovation from the convention as Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" echoed through the second-floor ballroom.

In a low-key, unanimous vote timed to get Malloy live on the 6 o'clock news, delegates who slowly filled the Connecticut Convention Center visited with old friends, gabbed about their incumbent top-of-the-ticket candidates and plotted strategy.

And while the political celebration was fully choreographed, delegates and VIPs alike agreed that even without floor fights or competing candidates, the quadrennial gathering of the Democratic tribe brought party members together.

"It's a team-building exercise," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch as he looked for a seat with other city delegates.

"It's state law," said veteran state Rep. Bob Godfrey, acknowledging that Friday night's incumbent-centric event could be "the dullest" Democratic convention since the 1970s. "The party has to actually formally nominate their candidates in order to get the Democratic ballot line. Unlike most years, we're not fighting with each other."

Peter Smith, a Milford delegate and former state lawmaker, said it's important to have a rallying point for state party members every four years. "You end up seeing people you haven't seen," he said. "Ultimately, you're bringing the team together to get on the field and win."

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who was also nominated unanimously, painted a softer picture of Malloy and stressed that party members had 172 days to seal their re-election effort.

"Now, as the governor has said, he sometimes has sharp elbows but I've seen a side of him that he doesn't always show," Wyman said. "I've seen a man who has led while he grieved, whether it was for fallen soldiers, citizens in storms or families facing devastating tragedies. I've seen a man sitting one-on-one with people during their darkest days -- making sure they know their state and their governor are there to see them through."

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No challengers emerged during the nominating processes, led by Democratic State Central Committee Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo of Trumbull.

Also nominated were Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, State Treasurer Denise Nappier and Attorney General George Jepsen.

kdixon@ctpost.com; 860-549-4670; twitter.com/KenDixonCT; facebook.com/kendixonct.hearst; blog.ct news.com/dixon

Ken Dixon|State Capitol reporter/columnist Hearst Connecticut Media