Franklin Countys First News

Politics & Other Mistakes: Being liked isn’t everything – or is it?

Al Diamon

According to a poll I haven’t bothered to conduct, Maine now has the least popular leader of its university system of any state. In late May, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees voted to hire former Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy as its new chancellor, a title that evokes images of aristocrats sporting spiked helmets, monocles and massive mustaches, all of which seem nicely aligned with Malloy’s autocratic personality.

Malloy, a Democrat, spent eight years as the Nutmeg State’s chief executive, during which time he consistently ranked at or near the bottom of the gubernatorial popularity list, occasionally spared last place because Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was even more disliked. An actual survey taken shortly before Malloy left office pegged his approval rating at less than 15 percent.

This distinct lack of public appeal could be attributed to the pair of massive tax hikes he pushed through. Or to several large employers leaving the state. Or to Connecticut piling up budget shortfalls in amounts that exceeded the entire box-office take for “Avengers: Endgame.”

Malloy also increased corporate welfare, an effort that failed to produce measurable returns. In fact, during his tenure, the state’s gross domestic product declined. Small wonder a commentator for The CT Mirror said he “secured Connecticut’s reputation as the most mismanaged state in the nation.”

Mostly though, Malloy turned off constituents because he’s a jerk.

“So much of it is due to personality, the way he presents himself,” Gary Rose, a Sacred Heart University political science professor, told the Hartford Courant. “He hasn’t done himself any favors in terms of his style. He’s very dismissive of other people.”

Another political scientist, Wesley Renfro of Quinnipiac University, agreed, telling the Portland Press Herald, “He’s prickly. He’s sort of temperamentally not suited to the type of work he is going to have to do in Maine or that he had to do in Connecticut. He was very unpopular and had a reputation for being a little bit arrogant.”

None of this bothers Malloy. As he left office, he told the Mirror, “I purposely chose to be unpopular.”

Speaking of unpopular, the Maine Republican Party was among the first to criticize Malloy’s hiring, conveniently ignoring the fact that the majority of the trustees who unanimously approved that action were appointed by former GOP Gov. Paul LePage, a guy who was grateful Malloy existed because it kept LePage out of the lowest tier of the gubernatorial popularity listings.

All this stuff would matter less if Malloy had extensive experience in higher education. But aside from a couple of side gigs teaching at law schools, his resume is as empty as his social calendar. Until he surprised nearly everyone by getting the Maine job, it was generally held by Connecticut commentators that whatever expertise he had lay in the area of mass transit. He was rumored to have been maneuvering to become secretary of transportation if Hillary Clinton had been elected president.

No doubt, students at UMaine campuses can look forward to excellent shuttle bus service.

Unfortunately, being chancellor involves far more than managing minivans. To be successful, Malloy will have to exhibit political and interpersonal skills that appear to have eluded him throughout his career. To divert attention from his shortcomings, he’ll need a spokesperson who can take the heat he’s going to generate.

Mary Fallin is no longer governor of Oklahoma. Maybe Malloy could hire her.

Approval ratings may be emailed to

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

14 Responses »

  1. ..It seems that in today's world..every appointment and election, the honored
    and respected State of Maine suffers.

    Could it be to many 'Liberal' programs and thinking being jammed across the state line at Kittery ? In case anyone hasn't noticed....The Canary has died in California and New York and 'Liberal' Air' will surely kill it here in Maine soon.

    Rely on Tried and True Values and watch closely those who would choke the freedom from our heritage.

  2. Lets try to look at the brighter side. Maybe education will become what the university is noted for around the country, rather than pressing for more rights for special groups. Time will tell.

  3. Not sure what you mean about California. They had a budget short fall a few years ago left by the GOP administration, but Governor Jerry Brown did a superb job of fixing that, balancing the budget and getting California in good economic shape. California is an economic powerhouse:

  4. California is an economic power house? The same place that has a median home cost of half a million or LA and San Francisco the top two cities with the highest cost of living. The same place that just voted to offer health care to illegal immigrants at the cost of 98 million a year. The same place facing a health care disaster?Thanks Scott you can live in California I will stay in little old Maine.

  5. Our new guvna and the dems are already pointing us towards California standards. Free everything unless you have a job then you get rammed with taxes. Anyone thatthinks that is a good thing feel free to leave Maine.

  6. Yup, California is a powerhouse for sure. They have the highest taxes in the nation and also
    Pay the highest prices for gas and diesel (over $5 per gallon) due to tax increases during the
    Jerry Brown tenure. Governor Arnold "the Terminator" left office in 2011 and there was a huge
    Deficit due to continual spending by the DEMOCRAT controlled legislature. He couldn't control
    Them. When Jerry Brown became Governor in 2012 he immediately pushed Prop 30 which raised
    State Income Taxes on the wealthier citizens of California by an average of 29%. The breakdown
    Was as follows: $250,000-300,000 up 1%, $300k -500k up 2%, and 500k+ up 3% to a whopping
    13.3%....that is just the state income tax!!! The highest in the nation by far!!! Soooooo....these
    Higher taxes filled the state government piggy bank and helped them pay down some debts.
    Governor Brown did hold the line on new spending quite well for several years, but there is a
    New Democrat Governor in place now and he is spending like crazy again. And one more very
    Important point... California got a BIG boost from the roaring economy under the current president.
    Their budgets really took off during 2017 and 2018 and into the current year. I guess Mr. Erb may
    Have missed those points when he did his research. Or maybe he just forgot to mention them??

  7. Off topic much folks? The whole article is about how LePage's board of trustees hired a man who is totally unfit for the job. No background in education. He was not able to control his state. And he did as he damn well pleased. Now if they have a desire to break up the University System and put it on the skids real fast... well they may have well just managed to to that... Unless the bodies that work under him have a vote of no confidence ..but by then the damage may be too far gone.

  8. Let me try again... does anyone know what the salary of the new guy is compared to the one he replaced? Hope this comment passes muster.

  9. Glen. substantially higher salary. 3 year contract at $350k per year. his predecessor was in the higher $200K....something like $275K-ish. New guy is making more here in Maine per year than when he was Guvnah of Connecticut. makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

  10. @ Scott Erb

    On your next trip to the powerhouse - LA, SF, and more coming along - don't forget to pack your hazmat suit.

  11. Any guesses on how many years will go by before the Great Beard grows weary of vilifying Paul LePage?

    And speaking of governor's, did Janet Mills have any say in this selection?

    It may be worth repeating that Malloy was, indeed, a Democrat. That he conceded that further increases in taxes on the wicked rich would be counter-productive because that would drive more of them out of Conn.---and then the Democrats did it anyway.

  12. Mr Frary,the rich aren't evil. Right now they and their children are lining up in droves to enlist in the war they are demanding we fight to make sure their oil profits don't take a hit. Just like they always do. Mr. Kusher is elbowing his way to the front. A more patriotic group of Americans doesn't exist.

  13. @ david firsching

    The US is now a net exporter of oil, so the US rich, evil or not, are happy with their profits. The really rich, the Saudis, are not so happy, and even less happy with neighbor Iran throwing a dangerous tantrum about no longer getting the US deference (not to mention pallets of unmarked cash) they got used to under the previous administration.

    Who is Mr. Kusher? Did you mean Kushner? If we have to rely on 38+ year old enlistees, we really need to restrict our warlike activities to online snark.

  14. "Wicked Rich."---Irony.

    This isn't important in itself, but irony is an important form of communication. The Great Beard of Hernia Hill, to cite but one example, would be crippled and baffled without it.