Governor makes Newtown response a campaign issue

Gov. Dannel Malloy signing into law new gun control measures following the Newtown school shooting. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is making a campaign issue of his handling of the 2012 mass school shooting in Newtown, using it as he seeks a second term to highlight his leadership during difficult times.

Malloy’s second television ad, released Monday, features Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was one of 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hockley credits the Democratic governor with having “the courage and conviction to stand up and do the right thing.” The 30-second spot comes on the heels of an ad that mentions his leadership when “unimaginable evil let loose in a school.”

Both ads mention Malloy’s handling of other crises Connecticut has faced during his tenure, including a massive budget deficit and Superstorm Sandy.

State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. accused Malloy of trying to exploit the mass shooting, as well as Sandy, for political gain. In a statement, Labriola contends the latest ad shows that Malloy, who is expected to face a challenging re-election fight, is desperate and trying to distract voters from his economic record.

Malloy’s two Republican challengers, businessman Tom Foley and Sen. John McKinney, either declined to comment on the ad or referred questions to the state GOP.

Mark Bergman, a senior adviser to Malloy’s campaign, said Hockley reached out to them and said she wanted to help Malloy get re-elected.

“It was a generous offer on her part and we’re honored to have her support,” said Bergman, adding that Malloy’s leadership during and after the Sandy Hook shooting “received widespread praise and is part of his record. And his record is an important part of this campaign.”

Khalilah Brown-Dean, an associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, said she believes Malloy’s campaign had to include his response to Newtown.

“This is sort of that elephant in the room, so to speak. This is a tragedy that happened in this state,” she said, adding that it makes sense for Malloy to reference Newtown considering that the shooting prompted new gun control legislation, which likely will be an issue in the general election, especially if Foley wins the Aug. 12 primary.

Brown-Dean said she thought Malloy’s campaign “masterfully” handled the issue in the first ad, by making a generic reference to the shooting. She said the second ad “takes this to the next step” by including one of the victim’s parents. But Brown-Dean said Sandy Hook is different from other tragedies because so many of the parents, including Hockley, have become politically active since the event.

“I think it was tasteful given the context,” she said. “Here you have a parent who has been very vocal about this, who has actively engaged politicians and engaged the policy.”

She likened Malloy’s ads to former congresswoman and shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords’ attempt to present a more nonpartisan approach to addressing gun violence. Brown-Dean said when the issue of gun control came up during a presidential debate between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore in 2000, a year after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, it was a “disaster” for both candidates because the Columbine families were not engaged in the political discussions.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s