Vulnerable Malloy Should Keep Endorsement Feelings To Himself

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In recent days, Gov. Dannel Malloy and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy have endorsed state Sen. Toni Harp for mayor of New Haven. This is fairly unusual, but maybe it makes up for the fact that Harp did not initially endorse herself.

No. She originally endorsed state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, back when she said she would not run for mayor "unless I'm struck by lightning."

One of the documented after-effects of being struck by lightning is short-term memory loss, so Harp may not even know she endorsed somebody else. Holder-Winfield had to get out of the race and has subsequently endorsed the woman who endorsed and then unendorsed him.

Enter Malloy with his endorsement — a vast political miscalculation. I am reminded of the words of Don Meredith, watching rookie Lions QB Eric Hipple take the ball on a naked bootleg and smash his way through a homicidal linebacker to the end zone: "Eric, Eric, you don't do stuff like that unless you have to."

Exactly. Never endorse in a primary, because the people you didn't endorse will hate you and will remember your betrayal long after they've forgotten who actually did endorse them. This is especially true if they worked for you in the past or think they did. And what if you need them to work for you in — I don't know — your upcoming re-election?

Malloy this week was named, by NPR, as one of the nation's "most vulnerable governors." I originally just thought this referred to Malloy's willingness to lay his emotions on the line and to admit it when he needs somebody to hold him. That kind of vulnerability is very hot right now, thanks to Dr. Brene Brown's vulnerability TED talk with 10.7 million views. She calls vulnerability our most accurate measure of courage, and the birthplace of innovation and change.

However, Malloy's vulnerability is just that he might lose on Nov. 4, 2014, when Henry Fernandez, Justin Elicker and Kermit Carolina and their most ardent supporters suddenly realize it is also Tonga National Day and decide to focus their thoughts and energies on that Pacific island nation instead of helping some guy who endorsed their opponent.

Anyway, getting endorsed by anybody less numinous than, say, Bobby Kennedy is not going to help anybody in a city primary. You think anybody in New Haven cares who Malloy backs?

Having endorsed Harp, then Malloy was under pressure to endorse William Tong, who has no connection to Tonga National Day, but who is, like Harp, a legislative committee chairman, and is running for mayor of Stamford, Malloy's home town.

So Malloy endorsed Tong, but this was interpreted as a big "up yours" to the Democratic town committee in Stamford, which endorsed somebody you never heard of, David Martin, over Tong. So that was ever worse and crazier than endorsing Harp. Malloy needs to get off the endorsement merry-go-round before his judgment deteriorates any further and he endorses a chicken in Harwinton.

Meanwhile, Murphy endorsed Harp. I have no idea why anybody thought this was wise or necessary. It could be an act of solidarity among people who have had difficulty paying their taxes on time, although in this arena Murphy is kind of a penny ante player, with a history of chronic sloppiness about paying his property taxes, but we're talking just a few months late on a few thousand dollars. Meh.

The Harp family is like a "Knots Landing" of tax delinquency. Toni Harp herself apparently punted on paying federal income taxes for four straight years in the 1990s. There were liens, consolidation, etc. Her late husband, Wendell, was a multi-level non-taxpayer, and his company is still the No. 1 tax scofflaw in the state of Connecticut.

By even mentioning that, I am essentially offering myself up for a scolding from former state Sen. Edith Prague, who this week denounced my next-door neighbor Kevin Rennie for his "character assassination" of Harp and concluded "Rennie should retire."

The only problem with either me or Kevin retiring is that we would be placed under the care of Department of Aging and its able commissioner, Edith Prague.

So just for the record, I am not retiring. Unless I am struck by lightning.

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at http://courantblogs.com/colin-mcenroe/. He can be reached at Colin@wnpr.org.

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