Governor Dan Malloy strode into Bridgeport on Tuesday speaking to a few hundred members of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council about the need to increase the minimum wage, even though he knew it would fall flat to the business community lunch crowd. Didn’t matter. That’s because the governor was addressing an audience outside the room … female voters who are the dominant voting bloc in Connecticut, particularly female urban voters he’ll need for reelection. It’s a message he’ll carry until election day.
In the state’s largest city, female voters outflank male voters by close to 20 percentage points. And that’s the audience Malloy will need if he’s to be reelected to another four-year term. Malloy wasn’t bashful appealing to female voters at the Holiday Inn Downtown.
“If you want to let women out of poverty in the United States, raise the minimum wage. Sixty percent of the people earning the minimum wage in our state are women. You want to make sure there’s more money going into the local economy? Raise the minimum wage. And the folks making the minimum wage aren’t investing in Wall Street. They’re paying their bills and they’re buying the books and shoes that their children need.”
Raising the minimum wage is a Democratic battle cry both on the federal and state level. Campaign strategists see this as an issue that can make a difference. In Connecticut, Malloy proposes to step the minimum hourly wage to $10.10 over the next three years. It’s a theme he’s sure to hammer home in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and other urban areas he’ll need in what is expected to be a competitive reelection. In fact, Malloy announced his support for an increase in the minimum wage in Bridgeport a few weeks ago. It requires, and will get, approval from the Democratic-controlled state legislature.
The Bridgeport Regional Business Council, consistent with business community constituencies, isn’t crazy about increases in the minimum wage that amount to government mandates to elevate costs. When is enough enough? How much more government intrusion can we take? We can’t afford this.
Male voters, generally speaking, are easy to figure out: raise my taxes I punch you in the nose. Malloy has raised taxes. Female voters, however, process information through a different filter. What’s my future with you in charge? What’s my standard of living? Is my kid safe in school? I’m a single mom with kids to feed, are you helping me?”
Welcome to the world of reelection campaigns. This is how it works: Malloy appealing to a constituency he needs and his eventual Republican opponent trying to counter it.