House Speaker Chris Donovan expressed confidence Thursday that the House will have the 101 votes it needs tomorrow to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of revisions to the campaign finance law.
“I believe we will have the votes we need,” Donovan said Thursday in a brief phone call. “It’s just a matter of getting everyone there.”
The Senate overrode Rell’s veto last week prior to Tuesday’s party primaries. The House session is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Friday.
The bill includes an increased grant to gubernatorial candidates participating in the public finance system and after Tuesday’s primary, Democrat Dan Malloy, was the only one left standing to receive it.
The bill increases the base grant for Malloy from $3 million to $6 million. A federal appeals court ruled that supplemental grants based on an opponents spending are unconstitutional, so proponents of the public funding decided to boost the base grant, in an effort to level the playing field.
Malloy will be running against wealthy Greenwich businessman Tom Foley in the fall. Foley will be able to contribute as much money as he wants to his campaign, but without Malloy won’t be able to receive or raise anything more than the $3 million if the House fails to override Rell’s veto.
“The bill the Legislature passed is a good one; it addresses the constitutional issues, and it maintains the integrity of a system designed to make sure that anyone can run for office, not just the very wealthy,” Dan Kelly, Malloy‘s campaign manager, said Thursday.
“We trust the Legislature will override the Governor’s veto and maintain the integrity of the system.”
But unless a Republican lawmaker joins the Democratic majority in the House, at least five of the 18 Democrats that voted against the bill the first time around will have to change their vote.
Sen. Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, expressed confidence Tuesday at Malloy’s victory party that his colleagues in the House would do the right thing and change their votes.
But most of the members in the House are up for re-election this year and those that voted against it initially are in tough races in traditionally right-leaning suburban towns.
For instance, Rep. Jason Bartlett, D-Bethel, had said after the vote on July 30 that he voted against it because the additional money being given to the gubernatorial candidate could be spent on a lot of other programs. He had said they should allow the candidate to raise additional money on their own.
And as of 4 p.m. Thursday Bartlett said he has still not made up his mind. “If a publicly financed candidate is being challenged by a multi-millionaire that’s a problem and that will weigh heavily on my decision,” Bartlett said.
However, while Bartlett said he wants to be fair to the Democratic nominee, he also doesn’t believe partisan politics should play a role in votes on policy.
“I want to make sure this is not a partisan decision,” Bartlett said.
Click here to see who else voted against the bill.
Bartlett, who also managed Gerry Garcia’s campaign for Secretary of the State, has said increasing money for campaigns is dangerous for lawmakers “in this environment,” when the state is facing a $3.4 billion deficit.
Proponents of the revised bill argue increasing the grant by $3 million doesn’t actually increase spending because the money is already sitting there in an account and it expected it would be spent.
Friday’s override will be Malloy’s last shot at $6 million in public funds, since a federal judge denied his request to set aside an injunction preventing the state from giving out matching funds.
U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill found the Malloy campaign’s arguments “unavailing” when he denied the motion Wednesday. He said he must uphold the Second Circuit Court ruling, which found the supplemental grants unconstitutional.
The bill the House hopes to override Friday also includes a provision, which saves the public campaign financing system. The legislature has 15-days from yesterday to make the necessary changes or the entire system will disappear.