IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME: ‘NEW SHERIFF’ V. ‘YESTERDAY’S NEWS’

It’s been brewing for some time now and has rightly gone unnoticed by the general public. But yesterday the tension between Gov.-elect Dan Malloy and folks in the Democratic “old guard” in the state boiled over.

Former state Rep. Jon Pelto publicly questioned why Malloy named two prominent Republicans to contribute to the gubernatorial transition. On his Facebook page and in an interview with the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog, Pelto said, “Why are two of Rowland’s closest advisers and confidants added to Malloy’s transition team today? I don’t get it. There are extraordinary Democrats who are left off while key positions are filled with people whose track record—when it comes to ‘good government’— are beyond repair. I want Dan to be the best governor we’ve ever had—I know he can be—but what the heck is going on?”

Malloy’s chief strategist, Roy Occhiogrosso, not one to easily lose his cool, responded bluntly. “No one cares what Jonathan Pelto thinks,” he told Capitol Watch. “He posts some comment on Facebook. Who cares? If some guy in the Midwest posts something about the Malloy transition team on Facebook, is that newsworthy? The fact that he’s reduced to making comments on his Facebook page” proves his status in the Democratic Party.

First, Occhiogrosso is absolutely right. Malloy is making the right moves to get the best and the brightest to volunteer to help make the smoothest transition possible—no small feat given the lack of cooperation from the outgoing gang. Secondly, one of the Republicans Malloy has contributing is Ross Garber. Garber, a former candidate for attorney general, is smart, hard-working and can bring something to the table. But according to Pelto, he shouldn’t be on the team because he was once an attorney for the office of Gov. John Rowland.

The little back and forth yesterday is indicative of a larger issue. Malloy is the new sheriff in town and a new kind of Democrat—reasonable, moderate and in touch with the average person. Yesterday’s Democrats like Pelto and former gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont are examples of failed approaches. Lamont, readers might remember, was even writing in the Courant and appearing on TV during the general election despite losing the two big elections in which he competed.

The view from the cheap seats must be good.