- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is getting a political boost from his friends in Washington during the final days of his close re-election bid.

The first-term Democratic governor made several campaign stops Friday in eastern Connecticut with U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. President Barack Obama is expected to headline a rally in Bridgeport for Malloy on Nov. 2, while first lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to appear at campaign event on Oct. 30 in New Haven.

Perez said Malloy is seen as a friend to the administration, someone who’s been able to implement initiatives in Connecticut that are important to the White House. The list includes gun control, a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave and a successful rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

“When we have the intransigence of some in Washington, then what we need is leadership from state and local governments,” Perez said during a stop at a Willimantic coffeehouse and restaurant. “And over the last year-and-a-half, for instance, 13 states have passed increases in the minimum wage, led by Governor Malloy.”

Malloy pushed to make Connecticut the first state to pass legislation that will impose a $10.10 an hour minimum wage. It’s the same rate Obama has sought on the national level. Connecticut’s new law increases the current wage of $8.70 an hour to $10.10 by Jan. 1, 2017. Malloy has touted the law as a major success for his administration.

“When the president wanted someone to lead, we led,” Malloy said Tuesday.

The visits from the White House come as the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Malloy about even with his Republican challenger and 2010 election foe, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley. Malloy had 43 percent the vote, compared with 42 percent for Foley and 9 percent for conservative petitioning candidate Joe Visconti. The telephone survey of 1,010 likely voters, conducted Oct. 14-20, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Foley has panned Malloy for the string of high-profile visits. Besides members of the current administration, former President Bill Clinton recently headlined a rally for Malloy in Hartford.

On Friday, Malloy’s campaign released a TV ad that features snippets from Clinton’s speech in Connecticut.

“I think it shows the governor can’t win this election on his own,” Foley said recently. “He’s got to bring other people in to try and get people excited about voting for him. I just don’t think it works.”

Foley, meanwhile, has gotten campaign visits from Republican Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Besides giving a lift to Foley, both men were the starring attractions at GOP fundraisers. Christie is returning Monday to attend a rally in Groton with Foley.

Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Malloy’s campaign, said it’s not just the White House that’s paying attention to Connecticut’s tight race for governor.

“A lot of people around the country are watching this race,” he said. “You make tough decisions and get things done, then they’re going to come in and they’re going to support you.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney helped to arrange Friday’s tour of businesses. Besides meeting with Hispanic business leaders in Willimantic, Malloy and the officials toured the Asnuntuck Community College Advanced Manufacturing Center in Enfield and discussed job training issues at businesses in Bozrah and Norwich.

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