A week after speaker-elect Chris Donovan held a press conference to announce his caucuses’ appointments, Republican leadership in the House and Senate and the Senate Democratic caucus quietly sent out press releases to announce their appointments.
This week was bitter-sweet for Republicans in the House.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced that Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, won’t be sworn in as a legislator and instead will accept a job as a Department of Public Utility Control Commissioner. DelGobbo was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee and one of the caucuses most knowledgeable members on every from the budget to energy. A special election will be held to fill his vacancy, but if Republicans don’t retain the seat they will drop down from 37 to 36 members. Democrats already hold the majority in the House with 114 lawmakers.
“As House Republicans have done for the last two years, we will make a difference and influence the debate over the direction Connecticut will take despite being in the minority,” Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk said in a press release announcing that Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby and Rep. William Hamzy, R-Terryville, will continue as deputy leaders.
Rep. John Harkin, R-Stratford will be Deputy Leader-At-Large and the new Caucus Chair will be Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers.
Cafero has yet to announce his committee assignments.
Among the most significant changes in the Senate Republican roster includes new ranking members on both the Appropriations and Finance committees. Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, will be the top Senate Republican on the Finance committee, replacing longtime State Senator Bill Nickerson, R-Greenwich, who will retire at the end of the year. And Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, who was recently elected to his second term in the State Senate, will be the ranking member on Appropriations, filling the position previously held by retiring state Sen. David Cappiello.
“With the retirement of four experienced legislators, our caucus had some big shoes to fill, but I know our new ranking members are up to the challenge and poised to make a positive contribution,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport said.
An interesting side note: Cappiello, who was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat Fifth
District Congressman Chris Murphy during the November election will take a job as a senior policy analyst with the Senate Republican caucus.
There are also some changes with the Senate Democratic caucus.
Sen. Joan Hartley-D-Waterbury, loses her chairmanship of the Higher Education Committee and is appointed chairwoman of the Regulations Review Committee, a committee which is as far s you can get from the spotlight at the state Capitol.
Based on these committee assignments it would be safe to assume Hartley has done nothing to endear herself to Democratic leaders.
Sen. Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester will take over as chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee and Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, will replace Handley as chairman of the Public Health Committee, a chairmanship which US Rep. Chris Murphy was able to catapult into a run for Congress.
Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, will take over Harris’ chairmanship of the Human Services Committee, where Rell’s Charter Oak Health Plan and the state’s Husky program has been hotly debated.
The newest member of the Senate Democratic caucus, Sen. Anthony Musto,D-Bridgeport, will take over as chairman of the Select Committee on Children. Sen. Ed Meyers, D-Guilford, will step down to vice-chairman of that committee and retain his chairmanship of the Environment Committee.
Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, will remain chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, will remain chairwomen of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee.
Sen. President Donald Williams, who names the committee positions for the majority Senate Democrats, said the committee leaders will play key roles in helping the legislature cope with the effects that the global recession is having on Connecticut.
“We’re preparing to go into battle next legislative session and I can’t think of a better team to share the foxhole with,” Williams said. “Our shared enemy is an economic crisis that is hurting Connecticut families and blasting huge holes in the state budget. This is a defining moment for our nation and our state, and this team of dedicated public servants is ready to meet these challenges.”