HARTFORD, CT — One of the longstanding traditions at the end of a General Assembly session is to pay tribute to retiring senators.
There were at least five such tributes paid the past few days to retiring senators, but one tribute to one retiree stood out a little more than the others — that being to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who presides over the Senate chamber.
Politics is a rough business. Words can be harsh. Feelings can be easily hurt.
But at the state Capitol it is hard to find anyone who has anything bad to say about Nancy Wyman — who is affectionately known as everyone’s “Jewish Grandmother.”
On Wednesday, the last day of the session, the plaudits for Wyman, 72, who has served since 2011 as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s number two, were heard everywhere.
“You are not afraid to show your love, your passion, your passion for the state,” Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said, as a packed Senate chamber watched the tribute to Wyman. “You know how to use your voice to ease the tension in this room.”
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk teased Wyman about the attention she was receiving Wednesday.
“I know how much you don’t want this,” Duff said. “You would be much more comfortable celebrating any other member but you.”
Both Fasano and Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and others who paid tribute mentioned her connection to children who visit the state Capitol.
Looney recalled how a few years ago he brought “my grandson Matthew up here and Matthew said after meeting you (Wyman) to me (Looney) “She’s like one of my grandmas.”
At the end of the tribute, Wyman, reluctantly made a short speech after a prolonged standing ovation.
“That’s enough — please stop,” she said to the applause, wiping away tears.
She said she had a speech written, “but I’m not reading it.” She also warned the legislators that her grandchildren still live in Connecticut, “So if you mess up this state, this Jewish grandmother is coming after you.”
When Malloy announced that he wouldn’t be seeking a third term, many thought that Wyman might seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
She decided not to, stating at the time: “I made this decision after careful consideration and discussion with my family and friends, and after my granddaughter, a freshman at college, asked a simple question, ‘will you come over for dinner, Grandma?’ It took four weeks to schedule that dinner. This is not how I want to be a grandparent. I believe that family should come first.”
Wyman began her career in public service as vice chairperson of the Tolland Board of Education. She served in the post for four years, but was on the board serving in other roles for five additional years.
In 1986, she was elected as the state representative from the 53rd District of Connecticut, serving in this capacity from 1987-95. She spent 16 years as state Comptroller and is one of the most beloved politicians in Connecticut.
Wyman lives in Tolland.