Sen. Eric Coleman, D-Bloomfield, and Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, submitted their resignations to the Secretary of the State’s office Wednesday, minutes before the 10 a.m. start of the legislative session.
Coleman, who has served in both the House and the Senate since 1983, submitted his letter with just nine minutes to spare.
In an elevator ride to his state Capitol office on the third floor, Coleman said he only reached the decision this morning after consulting with his wife. Embraced by lobbyist Bobby Shea, who called him “the nicest person in the building,” Coleman said it wasn’t an easy decision.
“We all reached the conclusion that as much as I enjoy serving in the Connecticut state legislature that now is probably an appropriate time for me to step away,” Coleman said.
Coleman is expected to go through the Judicial Selection Commission process before his name could be submitted to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for consideration.
“During 11 years in the House and 22 years in the Senate, Eric Coleman has been a relentless advocate for his constituents and his city,” Malloy said. “As a legislator, he earned the trust and confidence of his colleagues for more than three decades in the General Assembly. The people of Connecticut can be grateful for his efforts in reducing crime, reforming criminal justice system, and restoring trust in our system. We all would be well advised to look to the example of Sen. Coleman’s demeanor, passion and attention to detail.”
Supreme Court Justice Peter Zarella resigned from the bench last month to join the law firm of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter. Malloy was surprised by Zarella’s decision, which came three years before the mandatory retirement age of 70, and has not nominated a replacement.
The governor has not made any decisions on judicial appointments, including vacancies on the lower court bench, at this time.
Kane will join the office of the Auditors of Public Accounts, which is a legislative agency whose primary mission is to conduct audits of all state agencies. The office is under the direction of two state auditors appointed by the state legislature.
The post is considered a plum assignment with a starting salary of $150,000 a year.
Kane was not immediately available for comment.
The resignations of both a Democrat and a Republican Senator mean the Senate will remain divided, 17-17, until special elections are held in each of their districts. The district one represented by Coleman, which includes Bloomfield, and parts of both Hartford and Windsor, is thought to be a safe Democratic seat. The one Kane represents, which includes Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Roxbury, Washington, Watertown, and Woodbury, is thought to be a safe Republican seat.
The governor will have 10 days to issue a writ of special election and then 45 days after that a special election will be held.