Of the 44 men that have served as President of the United States, 20 served as Governor of their state beforehand, including four of the six most recent Presidents. Considering Gov. Dannel Malloy’s moves in recent days, one can’t help but wonder whether he might like to join that exclusive club.
Over the past several weeks, Governor Malloy has been capturing headlines with his willingness to engage New Jersey’s bombastic Republican Governor, Chris Christie . Â Malloy was recently contrasted to Christie in the New York Times and then the two traded jabs this week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
“Hopefully I take a slightly more intellectual approach to this discussion than Governor Christie has demonstrated,”
While the sharpness of the exchanges has people paying attention, its equally intriguing that Mr. Malloy would take up the fight in the first place.
It has been quite clear that over the last seven weeks, Malloy has sought to distinguish himself and his leadership style from that of former Governor Jodi Rell who, though popular, was very much a fly-under-the-radar type when it came to most things. Engaging in national politics could be just one more way in which Malloy contrasts himself to Rell.
It is also true that Malloy has sought to gain influence in Washington to lure more federal dollars back to Connecticut and having a national profile is always helpful in the nation’s capital. Courant columnist Rick Green notes, for example, that Malloy is “scrounging” for money in DC at this weekend’s National Governors Association meeting. Being the “Hey, isn’t that the guy that took on Chris Christie?” guy can’t hurt with fellow Democrats.
There may be broader points to it, too. Republican Governors in particular seem to have captured the imagination of the media over the last two decades or so. Former Gov. John Rowland, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former PA Gov. Tom Ridge, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, and others represented a class of relatively young, dynamic governors who innovated with new policy ideas and won nationwide respect for them.
With a new class of Republicans making waves, like Christie, Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Gov. Rick Perry in Texas, or Gov. Rick Scott in Florida, perhaps Gov. Malloy sees a need and opportunity for Democrats to do the same.
It could be the case that the Governor is simply exasperated with all the gushing over Chris Christie. Gov. Christie, it seems, is always on television or in the news, such as this weekend’s excellent New York Times magazine article by Matt Bai. Christie has barely been in office for a year, but after a hallmark speech at the American Enterprise Institute last week, the first questioner asked if he was going to run for President. Malloy could just be sick of it.
There is one other far-fetched but intriguing possibility: perhaps Mr. Malloy would like to be President himself. He wouldn’t be the first statewide politician to get that bug, and almost certainly not the last.