By Ann-Marie Adams and Evan Lawrence, Staff Writers.
HARTFORD — Fresh off a decisive victory over his challenger Ned Lamont, Democratic-nominated Dannel Malloy on Wednesday faced a room full of eager journalists, wanting to know how he came from behind in the polls and engineered a commanding lead in the primary election.
“I’m a closer,” Malloy said, matter of factly at his Hartford-based headquarters. “I’ve been saying this all along. We stayed on message, and the people of Connecticut decided who has the experience to do the job.”
About 20 percent of Democratic voters had their say on Tuesday, and Malloy captured 105,203, or 58 percent of the vote over Lamont’s 77,521, or 42 percent of the votes.
Up until Tuesday morning, Malloy trailed in the polls. But as results rolled in Tuesday night, he pulled ahead, winning by a surprising margin because the former Stamford mayor was outspent by millionaire businessman, Lamont.
Days leading up to the yesterday’s Democratic primary, many city delegates said they knew they had picked a winner at the state convention in May.
“Hartford went for Malloy at the convention,” said Sean Arena, a delegate. “We knew he’d be good for Hartford, just like how he was good for Stamford.”
On Tuesday, they were ready for a victory party as they awaited news of the latest polling numbers.
Vice President of the AFSCME and Political Action Committee Chair Chuck Flynn agreed. He said Malloy has lots of municipal experience and maintained a budget every year in Stamford. So he was confident Malloy can do it in Hartford, too.
That sentiment echoed throughout the room shortly after 8 p.m. as hundreds packed City Steam Restaurant downtown Hartford. There were many of Malloy’s long-time supporters. The majority of the people seemed to be middle- aged, working class people. A number of black supporters sprinkled the primarily white crowd. And many college students dotted the room. The big issue for those students was jobs after graduation.
Hannah Brown, a student at Boston University, said job availability in the state was a big issue for her, but she also liked Malloy’s energy and transportation policy.
“He was willing to go greener,” she said.
Mike Piersall, a University of Connecticut student, said he gravitated toward Malloy’s ticket because he outlined specific plans, “gave cold hard facts” on policies and how they would implement them.
Nancy Wyman, Malloy’s running mate for lieutenant governor, captured 110,749 or 63 percent of the votes compared to Lamont’s running mate, Mary Glassman’s 63,863 ,or 37 percent of the votes.
When Malloy and Wyman, entered the room at City Steam, the crowd erupted.
Malloy’s speech touched on transparency and accountability to voters.
“I want to start by saying if I’d known it was going to turn out this way, I would have gotten a bigger room,” he said.
The crowd went wild.
Listen to audio of Dan Malloy’s victory speech:
Here’s a run down of the Tuesday night’s events at City Steam.
8:00 P.M. – Polls close. City Steam is empty save a few reporters and a couple of early show supporters.
9:00 P.M.- The room has now filled up with Malloy’s supporters. Everyone is drinking, eating and conversing with another. There is no tension to the room, though in talking to people everyone is a little bit nervous about tonight. There are cheers when Malloy’s name is flashed on the TV screen.
9:18 P.M.- The voting count is at 26 percent. Malloy has 58 percent and Lamont has 42 percent.
9:21- A small eruption of cheer. People look around confused trying to figure out why as rumors of Lamont’s concession begin to float.
9:29- The official word. Ned Lamont has conceded.
9:48- The room breaks out into cheer as Lamont comes onto the TV and delivers his concession speech. Smiles can be seen throughout the crowd as people gather to watch.
9:51- Malloy and Wyman enter the room and it is as if a small bomb has gone off. He walks through a sea of supporters hugging, kissing, shaking hands with all of them. The room is electric. Hooting, hollering, and cheering are at the highest volume and does not cease until Wyman takes the stage.
9:55- Wyman takes the stage and delivers her victory speech.
10:01- Dan Malloy takes the stage and once again the room goes crazy. Throughout his speech the room’s volume goes up and down from quiet to concert. You can really feel how excited everyone is.
Additional reporting by Brad Palmer.