House Democratic leadership went on the offensive against Gov. M. Jodi Rell today, imploring her to prod Republican legislators to vote for campaign finance reform. Is that a tacit admission they have no hope of garnering a majority 76 votes in the House by themselves?Chris Caruso and Jim Amann (right): We need Ella.
“No. I don’t know that yet,” House Speaker James Amann (D-Milford) told reporters today after yet another Democratic caucus. Amann estimated the number of House Democrats supporting public financing to be in the “high 50’s.” That’s down from a few days ago, when he reportedly made public statements of having 60 Democratic ‘yes’ votes. The Democrats hold a 99-52 majority in the state House. Asked about the discrepancy, Amann said a couple members went from “yes to leaning yes,” due to concerns about bill language. And after repeated questions, Amann estimated that 25 percent of his caucus was a solid ‘no.‘That’s 24 or 25 ‘no’ votes. If one assumes Amann is correct and those 58 ‘yesses’ and 24 ‘no’s’ don’t drastically move, then that only leaves roughly 16-18 Democratic votes in the middle. Amann would have to practically run the table with those undecided votes in order to make a majority of 76 votes.Unless some Republicans jump on board. Amann and state Rep. Chris Caruso (D-Bridgeport), co-chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, blasted Rell to reporters today, questioning her leadership and accusing her of abdicating her role as someone who could forge a compromise.“Are you telling me Ella Grasso couldn’t get this over the top?” Amann asked.But Rell spokesman Judd Everhart said the governor would be happy to meet with Democratic leaders- after they’ve come up with a bill of their own. Then the two sides can hammer out the details.“If the majority party has a bill she can support, she will go to work immediately and get Republican votes,” Everhart said, adding that Rell corralled 18 Republican votes in the House last June and feels confident she could do the same again on a bill she supports. As for the speaker’s Grasso comment, Everhart said Rell was the one who’s been leading on the issue.“We don’t think the speaker can blame everyone else for his lack of leadership,” Everhart said.