A semi-chronological look back at 2008 where politics took center-stage

Last year Melissa Bailey of the New Haven Independent was in Iowa reporting on US Senator Chris Dodd’s campaign for the White House.

Dodd’s campaign started and ended in Iowa when he received only one delegate out of the 2,501 in the Democratic nominating contest.

By Jan. 5 Dodd was back home in Connecticut, undecided about who he would support in the presidential contest.

By the end of January Hillary Clinton was stumping at the Learning Corridor in Hartford and gearing up for the Feb. 5 presidential primary, which many thought would decide the Democratic frontrunner. It didn’t.

In February, just when Connecticut thought it wouldn’t be on the presidential campaign trail, President-elect Barack Obama packed the Hartford Civic Center a day before the Super Tuesday presidential primary making the state feel like it was part of the electoral process.

In February, Rell made her state-of-the-state budget address to the General Assembly and it received a lukewarm reception from the Democratic majority, who by the end of the year handed the budget reins back to Rell and decided not to adjust the two-year budget. By May both Rell and the Democratic majority decided to live with the budget they passed in 2007 leaving a majority of proposals discussed for several months on the table.

Christine Stuart file photo

In April President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Hartford to speak about malaria at the Boys and Girls Club, followed by a campaign appearance at Henry Kissinger’s home for David Cappiello. Cappiello challenged US Rep. Chris Murphy in the Fifth Congressional District and lost this past November. The former state senator from Danbury recently landed a job as a senior policy analyst with the Senate Republicans.

In June with gas prices topping $4 per gallon the General Assembly repealed an increase in one of the two state gas taxes. And the Democratic majority finds enough support to override Rell’s veto of the minimum wage increase, which goes into effect today.

Before the end of June the Hartford Courant had announced it would be reducing its staff by 53 employees and dropping the size of its newspaper from 273 to 206 by September. And this was only the beginning of the news industry losses this year. The Hartford Courant’s parent-company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and a number of other news organizations may have to close their doors before the end of this month. This is in addition to the numerous layoffs at WTNH in New Haven and WTIC radio in Farmington.

In July Rell called lawmakers back into a special session to dedicate the state’s surplus to heating assistance. It took all day Aug. 22 to get it done, but the legislature finally approved Rell’s request to use the surplus for heating assistance. 

Christine Stuart file photo

By the end of August it was time for the presidential nominating conventions. Connecticut’s Democratic delegation went 21 for Clinton and 38 for Obama at the convention in Denver. While Republican delegates in Minnesota were unanimous in their support of US Senator John McCain and thrilled with his vice-presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Connecticut Democrats were far from thrilled with US Senator Joseph Lieberman’s support of McCain and for his role in the convention. Just last month members of the

Melissa Bailey file photo

In October the state Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision approved gay marriage in the state of Connecticut and by the middle of November same-sex couples all over the state were rushing to their town halls to get a marriage license.

Also in October US Senator Chris Dodd was still trying to answer questions about the deal he received from Countrywide Financial on two personal mortgages. This drama will continue to follow the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee into the new year.

In November Obama soared to victory to become the nation’s first African-American president and Democratic candidates in the state rode his coattails walking away with a convincing 114-37 majority in the House and a 24-12 majority in the state Senate.

By mid-November state lawmakers were hearing for the first time about the enormous budget deficits they will have to deal with in 2009.