Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell isn’t seeking re-election, but her popularity makes her a coveted commodity on the campaign trail for other candidates in her party.
Media reports earlier this week said Rell has been all but invisible on the campaign trail most notably passing up an opportunity this summer to endorse Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s gubernatorial bid. Many felt her endorsement would have helped him clinch the nomination over Tom Foley, but Rell decided to sit out the primaries.
Earlier this week she said she would be attending a fundraiser next week for Foley and expected to campaign as much as her schedule allows for dozens of other candidates.
Rell was hardly invisible Tuesday evening at Angellino’s in Vernon where she hosted a fundraiser for Vernon Town Councilman Mark Etre, who is seeking to unseat state Rep. Claire Janowski in the 56th House District.
Etre, who has known Rell for 14 years, said her support is “phenomenal.”
“I think she’s out there as much as possible,” Etre said.
State Sen. Tony Guglielmo, R-Stafford Springs, who co-hosted the event with Rell, said her presence “gives a stamp of credibility to a candidate.”
No one seems to understand that more than Janet Peckinpaugh, the former news anchor, who is running against U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney in the Second Congressional District.
Peckinpaugh stopped by the fundraiser Tuesday and monopolized some of the governor’s time. As she was on her way out the door, Rell said she thinks she’s going to tape a radio spot with Peckinpaugh.
But Peckinpaugh is just one of the candidates Rell is looking to support. In addition to Republican U.S. Senate nominee Linda McMahon, Rell is taping a radio spot for Newington Mayor Jeff Wright, who is running for state Treasurer, and a television commercial for state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton.
“It’s just hard scheduling right now,” Rell said.
Some have criticized the governor for worrying more about her legacy and not wanting to expend any of her political capital on others, but Rell dismissed the criticism Tuesday.
“I’ve heard this over the years that you can use more political capital here or there. What else can I do? I mean, I say what I want, I do what I do. I support candidates. I talk about issues,“ Rell said. “I think I’ve used a lot of political capital over the years.”
“I’m proud of the things we’ve done, but I’m not going to brag about them,” Rell said.