Gov. Dannel Malloy and his wife, Cathy, arrive at the Governor's Ball… (Jessica Hill / Associated…)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The panel discussion was about how to get more women to run for public office. At the end, a middle-aged woman in the audience rose to ask a question. It was Cathy Malloy, the first lady of Connecticut, and she had something to get off her chest.
She was earthy and funny and clearly aggrieved.
“One of the things about public life, whether you are Republican or Democrat, is that people do not appreciate people in public life like they should,” Malloy said. “Americans eat their politicians up every day. And this is a huge problem. Not only do we get beat up, our children get beat up. And it’s tough business, a really tough business, for people that want to get in public life.”
The panel discussion, held in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention here, was sponsored by Emily’s List, a group that supports female office-seekers who support abortion rights.
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She was upset, Malloy said, because the day after she received a major national award for her work with rape victims, she was pulled over by police and ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Of course, her ticket made the news. The state was in the midst of a “click it or ticket” campaign, and the irony was too delicious for the media to ignore.
Her comments, reported Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times, made a splash back home. On Thursday, Malloy issued an apology notable for its failure to parse words or equivocate, as politicians so often do:
“First let me say that I apologize for my remarks,” she said in the statement. “I was trying to convey a certain sentiment, and I didn’t do a good job of expressing what I really feel. Although I don’t always agree with what’s written by members of the media, I do believe that they’ve been fair to my family and me. I made these comments at a panel hosted by Emily’s List, and I was addressing the question of why more people don’t get into public life, especially women. The point I was trying to make is that for those of us who do get into public service, there are sacrifices we have to make – including some of our privacy. Sometimes that’s frustrating. But we believe deeply in public service, and so we make whatever sacrifices we need to make. We don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for us, because we’re honored to be able to serve.”
As a matter of fact, Malloy, whose husband, Dannel Malloy, served 14 years as mayor of Stamford before becoming governor in 2011, had made that point loud and clear at the panel discussion.
“We choose to be in public life, we choose to run for office so nobody should feel sorry for us,” she said. “This is what we want to do.”