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Governor Invites Delta North After Georgia Governor Vows To Punish Airline Over NRA Stance

Governor Invites Delta North After Georgia Governor Vows To Punish Airline Over NRA Stance

Hartford Courant, March 1, 2018

By Stephen Singer

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined other governors Wednesday with an invitation to Delta Airlines to leave Georgia after the airline announced it’s ending a discount program for NRA members.

In a letter to Ed Bastian, chief executive officer of Delta Airlines, he commended him for his “courage in standing up” to the National Rifle Association.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of Georgia tweeted that he will "kill any tax legislation” that benefits Delta unless it “fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA." He referred to a $50 million tax break on jet fuel for the Atlanta-based Delta.

"Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back," the Republican said.

Delta recently joined United Airlines, Best Western, MetLife and other companies in cutting discounts and perks for NRA members. The actions were part of the latest national gun-control debate that began after the deadly Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida school.

Malloy promised Bastian that Delta will have access to an educated workforce, “vibrant cities and suburbs” and a strong education system.

20 percent of passengers at Bradley back to top

Delta accounts for nearly 20 percent of passenger traffic at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, the governor said.

Malloy also touted Connecticut as one of the safest states “with one of the lowest rates of firearm deaths in the country.”

The General Assembly and Malloy enacted strict gun laws in 2013 following the shooting deaths of 20 children and six educators at Newtown.

Other governors, including Andrew Cuomo of New York and Ralph Northam of Virginia, also invited Delta to relocate to their states.

“Hey @delta _ Virginia is for lovers and airline hubs. You're welcome here any time,” Northam said, plugging the state’s marketing slogan.

Malloy’s pitch for business based on Connecticut’s gun laws may be a first in economic development. In March 2016, he pitched Connecticut as "welcoming and inclusive" to North Carolina business owners, inviting them to bring their companies to Connecticut following passage of a law that critics said discriminated against the LGBT community. It excluded protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Catherine Smith, the state commissioner of economic development, said the governor’s decision to send a letter to Delta’s CEO was a “bit unusual.” But officials regularly follow up on all kinds of leads to lure out-of-state businesses, she said.

Grabbing the Georgia controversy Delta attracted by its action was “kind of reactive,” Smith said.

“Frankly, we do proactive outreach pretty regularly,” she said.