David Halbfinger’s Wednesday New York Times profile of Connecticut’s newly elected Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy favorably compared him to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is winning fans for his insistence on budget discipline and his outspoken challenges to unions: “In Tackling Connecticut’s Finances, New Governor Criticizes Peer’s Approach.”
Reporter Halbfinger let Malloy hypocritically pat himself on the back for civility while taking pot shots at Christie. Halbfinger played along, portraying Christie as “blustery and bellicose” compared to the “polite” Democrat Malloy, flatteringly portrayed as closing a deficit while spending “much of his energy finding ways to spare the most vulnerable" and considering tax increases.
(Halbfinger is not crazy about New Jersey Republicans; a May 30, 2009 story on the Republican primary for the governor's race (won by Christie) described Christie’s opponent Steve Lonegan as an "ultraconservative former small-town mayor" pushing Christie "far to the right.")
There is Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey: blustery and bellicose, hectoring the unions, enthralling fellow Republicans with his tax caps and spending cuts, already generating presidential murmurings after barely a year in office.
And then, up the road in Connecticut, there is a new governor trying to be everything Mr. Christie is not.
Mr. Christie criticizes unions and forces wrenching spending cuts at the local level. Connecticut’s new governor, Dannel P. Malloy, politely asks labor leaders for givebacks and wants to raise taxes on income and sales by $1.5 billion.
Mr. Malloy grew up with dyslexia and physical disabilities. He still cannot write or type. And as he closes a 20 percent budget deficit, he spends much of his energy finding ways to spare the most vulnerable.
But what is most striking about Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, is that just six weeks after taking charge of such a mild-mannered state, he is publicly taking shots at his celebrated counterpart in New Jersey, attacking his politics and policies, his intellect, even his personality.
“Being bombastic for the sake of being bombastic,” Mr. Malloy said, “has just never been my take on the world.”
Unlike his counterparts, though, he has set out to prove that even in an age of austerity one can govern as a defender of the social safety net.
As a candidate last year, he took a beating for refusing to forswear tax increases. He also promised not to gut education or shift the costs of services on to cities and towns. (He also stuck by his opposition to the death penalty while a gruesome triple-murder trial riveted the state, and wants to treat possession of less than an ounce of marijuana like a traffic ticket.) He won by barely half a percentage point.