Gov.-elect Dan Malloy continued his pattern of getting the best and the brightest to serve in his administration by picking former Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan as his commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services (DRS). Sullivan has been out of government since 2007 when Jodi Rell ran for reelection with Mike Fedele as her second. (Full disclosure: Sullivan hired me away from Manhattan to be his communications director when he was senate president).
Sullivan has been looking at a return to government if the situation was right. He had his eye on seeking elective office again, possibly comptroller. But Nancy Wyman’s very late decision to run with Malloy—she insisted to everyone she was running for reelection—made it too late for Sullivan or others to get in. Truth be told, it’s still a sore spot with some.
DRS is a good fit for Sullivan. His expertise in fiscal matters and tax policy is well known and one can assume his reach in the Malloy administration will extend beyond the DRS role. I’ve sat in many (too many) state budget negotiations in which Sullivan was the smartest person in the room (except maybe for certain staffers). And his powers of persuasion are legendary to anyone who has been in a Senate Democratic Caucus room. All of this is a good thing unless he overreaches and runs up against other big egos in the administration. And there are plenty of them thus far.
It also opens up the question of where the Malloy administration will go on new revenue. No thinking person can believe the state can get out of the massive budget deficit without new money coming in unless all state services are devastated. Sullivan is a closet moderate who will insist on having a say on how the budget shapes up. He is no longer in elective office so he can speak freely on how any income tax increase—unless it’s on the uber-rich—can be devastating to any job-growth effort.
It will be interesting to see how all the massive talent and massive egos shake out.