Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, re-elected to represent their districts and their respective caucus members, held a press conference today at the capitol to reflect on other results from last Tuesday and on Democrat Dannel Malloy’s gubernatorial victory.
“I have never served under a Democratic governor. This will be my tenth term,” Cafero said. “It’s a new dynamic. So we’re on new ground.”
Malloy replaces retiring Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who was preceded by Republican John Rowland and Independent/former Republican Lowell Weicker.
Both Cafero and McKinney said they separately congratulated Malloy, Stamford’s former mayor, and running mate Nancy Wyman, outgoing state comptroller, on their victory in the closest gubernatorial race decades.
Cafero said the two Democrats made a “surprise visit” to his caucus Monday.
“(It was) a very symbolic and very much appreciated show of a willingness to work together,” Cafero said.”It was a very nice, special moment for everybody.”
McKinney added, “If he wants to come meet with our caucus he’s absolutely welcome.”
McKinney said in a private discussion he told the governor-elect, “When I agree with you’ll I’ll be there, stand next to me. When we disagree we’ll try to bridge those differences. And when we agree to disagree we’ll do so respectfully.”
Asked whether Malloy’s razor thin victory should impact how he governs with a Democratic-majority General Assembly, Cafero said: “Does he have a mandate? I guess you could argue numerically certainly not. But he’s got the responsibility and we all owe it to him to wish him the best and work with him.”
But Cafero said Malloy should look at the results of last week’s federal elections, when Republicans reclaimed the majority in the House of Representatives two years after Democratic President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory.
“People like divided government. And for the first time in 20 years here in Connecticut we don’t have divided government. If we are going to work together, please heed those lessons,” Cafero said. “(Malloy) does have a choice. He could completely ignore the minority party … who represents over a million in this state. He could choose to ignore it. But I think President Obama might advise him if he does so he does so at his peril.”
McKinney said, “His mandate may only last as long as his first budget proposal … We’re elected to represent our constituents and we need to do that to the best of our ability as well.”