HARTFORD, CT — He was the underdog in the U.S. Senate race in 2012 before stepping aside and endorsing Chris Murphy. A year later he fell 198 votes shy of what he needed to get his party’s backing to run for Stamford mayor, and now Rep. William Tong believes he may make a good attorney general.
Tong’s decision to explore a run for Attorney General comes a day after Attorney General George Jepsen announced he wouldn’t seek a third term.
Tong, who co-chairs the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, has represented District 147 in the Connecticut General Assembly since 2007.
“Like Attorney General Jepsen before me, I serve as co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where I personally stood up to the NRA by fighting to pass laws to stop gun trafficking and protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence; stood up to an unjust system of mass incarceration by fighting to pass the Second Chance Society law, the Excessive Use of Force law, and the law reforming a broken bail system; and stood up for civil rights and basic liberties by fighting for marriage equality, transgender rights, and the rights of immigrants unfairly targeted by federal authorities,” Tong said in a statement. “And in the midst of the mortgage crisis, I stood up to Wall Street by fighting to overhaul our state’s foreclosure laws and to help thousands of people stay in their homes.”
Tong said he’s been practicing law for 14 years.
The number of years he has practiced is important because several years ago the Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution dictated that any attorney general candidate must practice for 10 years in order to qualify for attorney general.
The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz against the head of the Connecticut Democratic Party seeking to affirm her qualifications to run for the post. Turns out she didn’t have enough legal experience.
But she may now.
Since leaving public service, Bysiewicz has been practicing at the law firm of Pastore & Dailey LLC.
She is currently exploring a run for the state Senate.
Bysiewicz and Tong competed against each other for former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s seat, which eventually went to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.
Jepsen’s announcement caused a number of others to express interest in the post, but none have officially filed their paperwork like Tong.
Before Jepsen, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal served as Connecticut attorney general for 20 years. And before Blumenthal, Lieberman held the post.
The Republican Attorneys General Association Chairman and Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Monday that “in 2018, Connecticut has an opportunity to elect an attorney general who will be a consistent and reliable advocate for working families, small business owners and people all across the state. A fresh start is needed now, more than ever, in Connecticut.”
There had always been a handshake agreement between the Democratic and Republican Attorneys General Association that they wouldn’t campaign against each other, but in March Republicans voted to end that agreement.
The field of Republicans in Connecticut interested in the job has not been defined yet but at least one former lawmaker said he’s interested.
Former Rep. John Shaban said he planned to file paperwork to run for the Republican nomination soon.
Including the governor, there are six constitutional positions in Connecticut government.