Middletown Mayor Dan Drew Announces He’s Running for Governor of Connecticut

“Inequality is not inevitable. It is the consequence of bad decisions.” – Dan Drew

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[Updated 1/13/16, 9AM] An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Mayor Drew was up for re-election this year. He is actually up for re-election in 2019, after the gubernatorial race.

There’s big news in the town that many of us good students share and call home for 6 months out of the year! Middletown Mayor Dan Drew announced earlier today that he was establishing an exploratory committee to run for governor. He is currently serving his 3rd term as Middletown’s mayor, and will look to take over from current governor Dannel P. Malloy, a democrat whose current approval rating sits at 24%, and who consistently ranks as one of the least popular governors in America. Read past the jump for Mayor Drew’s announcement video and more about ~local politics~.

Here’s the video from Thursday morning announcing Drew’s bid:

In the video, Mayor Drew cites the halving of the Middletown unemployment rate, along with the creation of new small businesses and the future opening of a 500,000+ square foot FedEx distribution facility in the town as evidence of his strong economic record. He also references consistent budget surpluses for the city government and a record of anti-fracking and investment in clean energy and says that Middletown should be a model for the rest of the state’s governance.

Elaborating more on his political philosophy, he states,

“Inequality is not inevitable. It is the consequence of bad decisions. Too many democrats have gone along with these policies for too long for fear that our opponents would say negative things about them. Instead, we need to recognize that we have the opportunity and the responsibility to think big, and to make the bold changes that will tangibly improve life for people in Connecticut.”

Daniel Drew was born in New York City and attended UConn, where he was editor-in-chief of the campus paper, The Daily Campus. While he was editor-in-chief, he helped bring the independent paper (that had an operating budget upwards of $500,000 at the time) out of a state of near financial ruin. His turn as editor-in-chief earned him a spot on the O’Reilly Factor where he talked to Bill about free speech. Drew went on to earn a masters in organizational psychology from Columbia in 2015. You can read a more extensive bio of Drew on the City of Middletown’s website.

Dan Drew cutting the ribbon for Wes's cool new solar panels!

Dan Drew cutting the ribbon for Wes’s cool new solar panels!

Mayor Drew was first elected to the office in 2011, and then re-elected again in 2013 and 2015. Drew, a democrat, first ran for mayor back in 2009 and lost to then-Republican-incumbent Mayor Giuliano (no, not Giuliani). His successful run for mayor in 2011 saw an endorsement from WesDems and calls for greater engagement between the mayoral office and the Wesleyan community.

In 2012, Mayor Drew expressed support for a new Wesleyan bookstore in Middletown that would be part of a big ol’ strip mall on Washington street, which was strongly opposed by several Middletown residents and Wesleyan students. That  bookstore deal didn’t end up happening, but there will be a new bookstore on Main Street come 2017 Reunion & Commencement. Mayor Drew said about the project: “We are thrilled to be working on this project with the university, which is contributing so much to the vitality of our community, and we look forward to the success of this project.”

Mayor Drew was criticized in the Fall of 2014 for his decision to bill Wesleyan over $7,000 for the wages of 46 additional officers to protect Wesleyan students when they staged a 11 minute die-in protest in response to the non-indictment of Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson for their killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, respectively. A Wesleying writer remarked that billing the University seemed like a discouragement of further peaceful protest by Wesleyan students and called the request ironic and unjust.

Dan Drew signing Memorandum of Understanding on sexual assault with Middletown Police Chief and Wesleyan officials.

Dan Drew signing Memorandum of Understanding on sexual assault with Middletown Police Chief and Wesleyan officials.

This past September, Drew gave Wesleyan’s annual Constitution Day lecture, where he challenged the notion that we are more progressive than previous generations. This semester, he is teaching a class called CSPL206: Group Psychology in Politics: Local, State, and National Perspectives. He has also signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Wesleyan administration on the handling of sexual assault, which is truly vague and potentially newly relevant considering the news from last semester surrounding the firing of Scott Backer and subsequent critiques of the university’s handlings of sexual assault.

The next mayoral election for Middletown is in 2019, due to voters approving in 2014 a move from 2 to 4 year terms for mayoral and city council members. It would be cool if there was another mayoral debate on campus like this!

As far as his chances, who knows? As the Hartford Courant reported, he is the first Democrat to announce his bid for the 2018 race. Incumbent Democrat Dannel P. Malloy was widely expected to join the would-be Clinton administration, and has not mentioned whether he will seek a third term as governor. Malloy is highly criticized for the gargantuan $1.4 billion state budget deficit and poor business climate, which seem to be areas where Drew can reference his work in Middletown.

Alicia Hernandez Strong ’18, who currently serves as a member of the New Britain Democratic Town Committee and advocates for issues affecting minority and low income people across the state, had this to say about Drew’s announcement:

I think Mayor Dan Drew is a great prospect. Aside from being a solid guy (he actually donated his kidney to a resident!) he’s done a lot in Middletown. I’ve notice over the past few years Main Street has been attracting more and more people from outside the city. Not to mention he is a strong advocate for refugee resettlement—a big topic this election season. I think he’s a great option for the governor’s office.

Twenty-three months out, we can only really comment on Drew’s tenure as mayor. It will remain to be seen whether Drew’s bid for governor will gain traction statewide. Maybe we’ll soon be referring to Mayor Drew as His Excellency (the official manner of address for Connecticut governors, according to a Wikipedia sidebar)?

I fully expect the Middletown mom who received one of Dan Drew’s kidneys last July to be his first supporter.