A state representative from Hamden wants to know if he should join a growing crowd of candidates vying for attorney general.
Rep. Michael D’Agostino, a civil litigator for the past 20 years and a state representative for the past five, announced this weekend that he’s exploring a run for what could be one of the most hotly contested seats in 2018.
Like other Democrats, D’Agostino said he looked at what happened at the national level and wanted to know if he could do more for Connecticut.
D’Agostino said the Attorney General’s office, which deals with unfair trade practices and the anti-trust act, would be a perfect fit for his talents as a civil litigator.
But he insisted in a recent interview that the contest isn’t about him.
“The upcoming election is not about me or any one candidate,” D’Agostino said. “Our state and our country are at a crossroads. One path, the direction that Donald Trump wants to take us on, leads backwards to a place filled with hate, division, and injustice and corporate interests over the rights of workers. We will not take that path.”
Attorney General George Jepsen, a Democrat, announced in November that he wouldn’t seek a third-term opening up a spot on the statewide ticket that no one expected to be open.
Since that time at least three candidates on the Democratic side and one on the Republican side have expressed interest or have officially gotten into the race.
Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei. Tong and Doyle are exploring, while Mattei has made his campaign for the office official. He had previously been exploring a run for governor.
D’Agostino said he has a different view of at least two issues that have been raised over the past few years.
One involves so-called “captive audience” meetings. The legislature tried and failed in 2011 to pass legislation that would prohibit businesses from forcing employees to attend certain meetings. Labor unions say the meetings are used as a tool to intimidate and threaten workers who are considering joining a union.
The House passed the bill that year 78-65 after 11 hours of debate, but the Senate never raised the issue because Jepsen said federal law pre-empted it.
D’Agostino said he believes such legislation would be defensible and it’s something he would be happy to defend in court.
He said the state will also see challenges to collective bargaining and the attorney general’s office has to be willing to defend the legislature in court.
Last summer, D’Agostino ushered the State Employees Bargaining Agent concession agreement through the House.
He also disagrees with the action the state has taken to challenge a lower court decision in the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell case. He doesn’t believe the state should have appealed the decision because Connecticut’s current education funding system is inequitable.
As a partner at Morgan Lewis, D’Agostino oversees the pro bono efforts of more than 20 attorneys in his firm’s Hartford Office, who devote more than a thousand hours each year toward protecting the rights of children and immigrants. He also serves on the board of directors for Connecticut Appleseed, a statewide non-profit organization that mobilizes the skills and resources of pro bono lawyers for the underserved and underrepresented.
Prior to being elected to the state House, D’Agostino spent 13 years on the Hamden Board of Education, serving his last seven years on the board as its chairperson.
He lives in Hamden with his wife, Kate, and their dog, Vella.