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Working Families Party Won’t Rule Out Pelto Endorsement For Governor

April 22nd, 2014 · 9 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Education, News and Events, State Politics

Jonathan Pelto

Jonathan Pelto. Will he?

In 2010, Tom Foley received more votes for governor on the Republican line than Dan Malloy received on the Democratic line. The 20,000-vote difference was the Connecticut Working Families Party line where Malloy’s name also appeared for an extra 26,308 votes. Combined with his Democratic vote haul, Malloy was elected governor by roughly 6,000 votes following a grueling election-day ballot shortage in Bridgeport that created chaos and made national headlines. Four years later, there’s angst in the ranks of the Working Families Party over some of Malloy’s policies including teacher standards and what students are expected to know at various grade levels under the Common Core curriculum–angst fanned by former State Rep. Jonathan Pelto, who’s been a stick in Malloy’s eye for the better part of his term, from Pelto’s blog perch.

Pelto, a political and communications strategist, is considering a run for governor. Even at this late stage if he decides to get in the game he’s a relevant player for no other reason than a threat to poach the Working Families Party endorsement from Malloy, or perhaps become enough of an ideological wedge for the WFP to forgo an endorsement. The WFP has become a force on the Bridgeport Board of Education through its coalition control with the Democratic bloc.

Political strategists debate just how many of those WFP votes for Malloy would have been for him on the Democratic line–a small percentage of the electorate just cannot vote for a major party–but does anyone really want to test it to find out?

In response to an OIB email about the possibility of a Pelto endorsement, Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the WFP, wrote, “We will consider the candidacies of everyone who applies for our endorsement. Our questionnaire will be out in May, and we’ll start interviewing candidates then.”

Farrell has been consistent in her statement even when asked about the potential of an unlikely endorsement for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, but Pelto’s consideration adds a tasty strategic layer to the governor’s race in what is shaping up as a close November general election even with a likely Republican primary in August. Foley, the 2010 GOP nominee, is facing challenges for the party nomination from several candidates including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and State Senator John McKinney.

Pelto, a former five-term Democratic member of the State House, is an old-time liberal’s liberal mostly simpatico with Working Families Party battle cry aligned with state employee unions and bread-and-butter issues such as education, jobs, health care and increasing the minimum wage.

“We stand up for the everyday families that make Connecticut what it is–not the Wall Street banks, the lobbyists and the CEOs,” declares language on the WFP website.

Malloy and the WFP, heavily financed by labor unions, are in synch on several likewise concerns such as the increase in the minimum wage the governor has signed into law. But on other issues they part company.

The mighty Connecticut Education Association that represents unionized teachers is among the vocal voices criticizing the governor’s education policies. Malloy supporters argue privately, “If you think our education policy is tough, just imagine what it would be like under Governor Foley.”

Pelto, from his website, has taken long and hard positions against Malloy betraying progressive sensibilities such as his embrace of Common Core and supporting the state takeover of Bridgeport schools that was eventually overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Malloy political operatives counter Pelto’s on a liberal jihad because he was not brought in as a player at Malloy’s strategic table.

Whatever the reasons, Pelto could become an even bigger pain in the ass if he pursues the Working Families Party endorsement. He tells OIB he will at least discuss the possibility of an endorsement. But could even the threat of an endorsement move Malloy back to left of center in the general election where he’ll need major support of unionized workers to win another term?

Pelto is weighing more than ballot access. The other piece is how he funds a race under the state’s Citizens Election Program of publicly financed races.

As Pelto points out, “So whether on the WFP line, it seems you’d still have to do an independent line (7,500 signature to get on the ballot) but then collect another 112,979 signatures to qualify for a 1/3 grant. So ballot access is easy, money is the real issue.”

Pelto is researching the question.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Where are the progressive liberals in the Bridgeport State delegation? There are none. Run Jonathan, run.

  • charlie

    Sorry, but people vote for the Party, not the candidate. If the WFP wants to screw Finch, then stay off the ballot or endorse ABM. Do not let that POS take your votes for granted as do all politicians.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Ron,
    What does a “progressive liberal” look like today? What are their priorities or goals? How do they advance them once they get into office and where does their funding come from?

    And if Jon Pelto fits your definition of such, what does he do to deal with State problems after bringing his philosophy and influence to correcting what ails public education in the State?

    Thank you in advance for helping me understand how practical “party” politics deals with the ideals you espouse. Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      John Marshall Lee, all I did was put out a question and there have been no answers.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Actually Ron, if you read your post you did more than ask a question about the Bridgeport delegation.
        Then you answered your own question, and cheered Jon (presumably Pelto) to run, run. And I assumed you meant for office in the context of the article, rather than run away from whatever, as is often done in Bridgeport politics.
        But the nature of your question (and answer) is you have an awareness of just what a “progressive liberal” looks like and might stand for. Otherwise, how could you answer your own question? So how about sharing your knowledge about and reasons for supporting “progressive liberals” for office in our City? Time will tell.

  • BOE SPY

    If Pelto runs and the WFP backs him I see a Republican governor next term. Remember, if it were not for Bush, Obama and the WFP we would have a Republican gov this term. Malloy did not win, Obama did and Bush helped Foley lose. Malloy has alienated too many people with at least one of his new laws. Everyone is not going to vote for Malloy for one of these reasons: The MJ law, Gun law, school reform, minimum wage law, tax increase.
    I see this happening. The Republicans will get the same or more votes than last time. Malloy will get fewer votes than last time. Pelto will get the WFP votes and a few more. One of Pelto’s big problems will be his blog. You can find enough tidbits, clips and quotes in there to spin and upset anyone you want. The last thing you would want to do if you are seeking public office is talk too much, and then write it down.

    • Mustang Sally

      I completely agree, BOE S{Y. This Pelto thing kind of leaves me wondering if it’s simply a strategy to dilute the Malloy vote and move him out of the mansion. I will be watching Face the State on Sunday, Jonathan will be the guest. It’s worrisome for Democrats for sure, but the Republicans have got to be chanting to the election gods right now. There could even be incense involved. ;)

      • BOE SPY

        It is probably more of a ploy to get Malloy to back off the education reforms. The WFP will back Malloy or no one. They know that backing Pelto is the same as backing the republican and none of the republicans can pass the WFP questionnaire.

  • Ron Mackey

    John Marshall Lee, “The Great Society and the High Tide of Liberalism”
    A wide-ranging reconsideration of the legacy of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society
    EDITED BY SIDNEY M. MILKIS AND JEROME M. MILEUR

    The long era of liberal reform that began with the Progressive movement of the early twentieth century and continued with the New Deal, culminated in the 1960s with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Inspired by the example of his mentor, Franklin Roosevelt, Johnson sought to extend the agenda of the New Deal beyond the realm of economic security to civil rights, housing, education, and health care. In the end, however, his bold ambitions for a Great Society, initiated against the backdrop of an increasingly costly and divisive war, fueled a conservative backlash and undermined faith in liberalism itself.

    Pelto, a former five-term Democratic member of the State House, has more experience than a lot of candidates and he is qualified to run for governor.

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