The word to describe Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s visit to Connecticut Monday is civility.
By all accounts, in Perry’s meetings with firearms manufacturers and others, he offered few if any details about what Texas might give them. On the same day, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard was in town on a much lower-key visit to meet with many of the same people.
At Max Downtown, where Perry had meetings and hosted a reception, he was surprised by a visit from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“I wanted to welcome him to our state,” Malloy said. “We wanted to show him what good Yankee hospitality is all about.”
“I hope I’ve been civil,” Perry said. “To make the effort is a great show of hospitality.”
Both Malloy and Perry referred to the handshake as just a bit of civility among fierce competitors.
“I hope we can shake hands, realize that we’re just competitors,” said Perry.
The Texas reforms that make that state among the friendliest for business go back more than a decade. “You’re going to be most comfortable in a place where you get to keep more of what you work for,” Perry said.
When I asked about if those reforms — in some cases a loosening of regulations — also contribute to situations like the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas: “Until we get to the bottom of that investigation, I think it’s a bit premature.”
On a tour of Colt’s Manufacturing earlier in the day, Perry shot a half dozen pistols and rifles for about 15 minutes.
“He’s a good shot and he knows how to handle firearms,” said Bill Taggert, the Colt executive charged with gathering information from various states about economic development. “He knew our products.”
Since Connecticut officials started considering a ban, Colt’s has said it would look at all of its options. On Monday, Taggert said, those options include picking up and moving the entire company to another state. Other actions could also include expansion elsewhere, staying where they are, or moving to a different location in Connecticut.
Taggert and other gun manufacturers have said repeatedly that just feeling welcome and wanted by a governor is a strong incentive.
I asked him if he feels wanted by Malloy, who has said that manufacturers should have no reason to leave despite the ban on some semi-automatic weapons.
Taggert’s response: stone silence.
Daugaard said he did not see Malloy Monday either, adding “I’m not here to see him.”
Lacking any metropolitan area, South Dakota has a tougher challenge attracting people and companies from Connecticut.
“South Dakota is a very good environment for manufacturers, Daugaard said. “As the national manufacturing base has declined over the last few years, South Dakota’s has grown. Our worker productivity is very high.”
While Perry stuck to niceties, Daugaard had some criticism for Connecticut. “I think they over promised and underfunded their pension fund.” Instead, adding that South Dakota has no debt.
There is a cluster of gun manufacturers in South Dakota, near the Black Hills and Dauggard said his state was the first in the nation to protect gun manufacturers from law suits by consumers.
As for the state’s lack of any metro area, he said. “It depends upon what people are interested in finding. I personally rather would not live in a metro area.”
And what about the $1 million advertising campaign Texas launched to lure jobs from the northeast?
Comparing South Dakota to Texas, he said, the states are traditionally one and two for being business-friendly, but the South Dakota governor took a shot at Texas: “Texas is a big sate with more money than South Dakota and it can afford to spend money that may or may not be effective.”
Later today, Perry will give remarks at the Civility in America Speaker Series at Ferguson Library in Stamford, where the Texas governor will also take questions from the public.