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Who would want to be governor anyway?

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published May 26. 2013 4:00AM

Even from a distance at last week's Coast Guard Academy graduation, I thought I could see Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wince when Vice President Joe Biden called him Gov. O'Malley.

At least it made me feel a little sorry for Gov. Malloy, who can never seem to catch a break.

Earlier this month, Malloy's weekend trip to Washington for the White House Correspondent's Dinner blew up in his face when news seeped out that People magazine paid for him to go.

I didn't particularly care one way or the other about Malloy accepting the free trip, since the magazine doesn't do any official business with Connecticut. It's not like the cozy relationship the governor's energy commissioner and his wife, U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, have developed with the state's principal utility.

You have to wonder, though, why People would even bother to fly in a junior level political celebrity.

After all, even the vice president can't remember the name of the governor of Connecticut, a governor in the same party.

Anyway, the whole thing ended up costing Malloy $1,234, to reimburse the magazine to shut everyone up. The trip, which I suspect the governor first thought of as a legitimate perk, wound up being a costly personal junket.

It makes me wonder again why anyone would want to be governor.

These days, especially, being governor of Connecticut seems like a thankless task, as the state seems to have slipped to the bottom of almost every ranking, from citizen indebtedness to taxpayer tax burden.

Some of the blame does certainly belong at the doorstep of the incumbent. But Malloy did also inherit a long history of mismanagement and indebtedness that didn't happen over just a few terms.

No wonder everyone wants to be a U.S. senator from Connecticut, just another in the pack in Washington, instead of governor, the figurehead whom everyone can blame for all the state's troubles.

The senators wing around the world on all kinds of junkets and ride that little senators-only underground tram to the Capitol. Gov. Malloy can't even let People pick up a weekend tab.

I can almost guarantee you that Linda McMahon, who spent nearly $100 million to try to become a Connecticut senator, wouldn't spend a dime to be governor.

A lot of the other senator wannabes, like former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington, show no inclination to be governor. I have heard Simmons say he thinks of himself as more of a legislator than an executive.

Of course, there are some current Republican legislators in Hartford expressing an interest in running. Maybe they figure, at least for the first term, they can successfully lay blame on the Democrats who have run things for so long.

Then there's Tom Foley, the wealthy Greenwich businessman who seems very keen on being governor, already well along on run number two.

You would think someone like Foley, who has already made a fortune in private business, would think of better ways to enjoy his days than strong-arming Connecticut's unions.

But maybe there are some things that money can't buy, like having a State Police trooper behind the wheel of your black sedan.

I suspect Foley is not in it to have People pick up his tab for a celebrity spin through Washington.

I believe Malloy has high principles and has aimed for excellence in executing the offices of governor.

But it's true he hasn't been able to catch a break.

He might have pulled a rabbit out of his budget hat if the economy had turned around faster. But instead he let the unions straightjacket him with a deal that won't let him use the obvious solution to the state's budget woes: layoffs.

It's hard to imagine what miracle will now come along to allow the governor a second term.

And then it won't be long before people start remembering that lame duck governor, whatever his name was ... O'Malley?

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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