Roy Occhiogrosso, a top aide to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is resigning and will depart by the end of the year.
Malloy and Occhiogrosso declined to explain the reason for the abrupt departure except that it was the plan all along for his top advisor to depart after a year. Malloy said he convinced Occhiogrosso to stay an additional year.
“I have been fortunate to have smart and talented people work for me…and Roy embodies that,” Malloy said. “We’ve been at this together for a long time…he is someone I have relied on, the lieutenant governor has relied on and he will be greatly missed.”
Occhiogrosso, 47, ran Malloy’s campaign for governor and has been a political organizer, consultant and key advisor to Democrats in Connecticut for more than two decades. He is a former partner with Global Strategies Group, a political public relations and consulting company. He previously served as a press aide Bill Curry when he ran for governor in 1992. Before that he served as policy and communications director for the state Democratic party. He is a 1986 graduate of the University of Connecticut.
Asked if he is abandoning the governor at a key time, when he tries to balance a budget gap that the comptroller’s office estimates at $415 million, Occhiogrosso said “every day is a critical time here. I’m not sure that there’s been a time in the last two years where you couldn’t have said that. I think he does a great job. If I’ve been some small part of helping him get done what he wanted to get done…then I’m happy about it.”
He will remain on the job through the end of the year, then he plans to take a vacation. He said he is “working on finalizing something and I should know more in the next couple of weeks.”
“I personally think people tend to stay in these jobs too long sometimes and I had a great time. Time to do something else,” Occhiogrosso said.
“We are going to have to do more with less staff,” said Mark Ojakian, Malloy’s chief of staff. “Roy had a unique skill-set which you cannot replace. He had not only a very close personal relationship with the governor but was able to work closely with the rest of the administration and with a lot of people in the media…so that’s not replaceable.”
Ojakian said Occhiogrosso’s departure will lead to a more significant role for Andrew Doba, the governor’s spokesman, as well as other aides. “We’re still deciding who’s going to do what,” Ojakian said. “The message will stay the same.”
Occhiogrosso, who is paid $160,000 per year, had his greatest political triumphs under Malloy after a series of high-profile losses. He had two major wins with Malloy – defeating Ned Lamont in the 2010 gubernatorial primary and then winning the general election against Republican Tom Foley. That was Occhiogrosso’s biggest victory since Bill Curry’s win in the 1994 Democratic primary against then-Senate President Pro Tem John B. Larson. Larson went on to become the fourth-highest-ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a friend of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, while Curry never again held elective office. Curry, with Occhiogrosso by his side, lost to Republican John Rowland in the 1994 general election.
Occhiogrosso’s losses included the 2006 Democratic primary loss by Malloy against New Haven mayor John DeStefano, the 2002 gubernatorial election with Curry, the 2006 primary defeat for U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, and Congressional losses by Democrat Jim Sullivan against U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons in 2004 and Democrat Diane Farrell in 2006 against U.S. Rep. Chris Shays. The year 2006 was a low point with losses by Malloy, Lieberman, and Farrell.