State Rep. Matt Ritter may be holding a fundraiser Thursday with Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz in Rhode Island, but it doesn’t mean the two have teamed up to take over the number one and number two slot in the Connecticut House.
Aresimowicz, who is vying to become the next Speaker of the House, is hosting a fundraiser with Ritter at the home of John and Barbara Hooper. Mr. Hooper is the co-chair of ReedSmith’s complex litigation group and a partner in the New York law firm. The suggested donation is between $250 and $1,000. The money will go to the Connecticut Majority Team PAC, which is chaired by Matthew Brokman, Aresimowicz’s chief of staff and former union lobbyist.
As of July 10, the PAC had about $97,000 of cash on hand. The PAC spent $10,000 in February to hire Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research to conduct a poll to gauge public opinion on some policy initiatives and the popularity of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Earlier this year they declined to release the results of the private poll.
The PAC has been able to raise about $40,000 since January. Democratic lawmakers and almost every lobbyist at the capitol on any given day during the legislative session has given between $50 and $100 to the PAC.
Democratic leadership is responsible for defending its current 87-64 majority in the House. Raising funds for its PAC is part of the effort to defend the seats it currently holds, while trying to pick up more.
Ritter, the son of former House Speaker Thomas Ritter, is seeking to climb the ladder from co-chair of the Public Health Committee, to majority leader — the post being vacated by Aresimowicz.
However, unlike Aresimowicz, Ritter has some competition for the position.
Rep. Toni Walker of New Haven, who has co-chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee for six years, is also vying for the position.
Walker said Monday morning that she is still campaigning for the position and asking her colleagues for their support.
“Raising money should not be a defining factor of our leadership,” Walker said.
Walker said her strength is in party-building and messaging.
“We have to have a message,” Walker said.
She said she’s been hard at work talking to her Democratic colleagues in the House about how to develop the policies that back up that message, so that they are ready to hit the ground running in January.
She said she’s working on figuring out how to incorporate some of the platform document, expected to be adopted at the Democratic National Convention next week, into workable policies for Connecticut.
The current draft calls for free community college and tuition-free education at in-state public colleges for families earning less than $125,000 per year. Walker believes it’s a policy Connecticut could modify.