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Jodi Rell

M. Jodi Rell, April 19, 2007

Assumed office 
July 1, 2004
Lieutenant Kevin B. Sullivan (2004-2007)
Michael Fedele (2007-present)
Preceded by John G. Rowland

In office
January 4, 1995 – July 1, 2004
Governor John G. Rowland
Preceded by Eunice Groark
Succeeded by Kevin B. Sullivan

Born June 16, 1946 ( 1946-06-16) (age 63)
Norfolk, Virginia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lou Rell
Residence Brookfield, Connecticut
Alma mater HS diploma
Profession Political Aide, Public Official
Religion Episcopalian

Mary Jodi Rell (born June 16, 1946) is a Republican politician and has been the 72nd and current Governor of the U.S. state of Connecticut since July 1, 2004. She was the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut under Governor John G. Rowland, who resigned during a corruption investigation. Rell is Connecticut's second female Governor, after Ella T. Grasso. On Nov. 9, 2009, Rell announced she would not seek re-election in 2010[1].


Early life

Born Mary Carolyn Reavis[2] in Norfolk, Virginia, Rell attended Old Dominion University, but left in 1967 to marry Lou Rell, a US Navy pilot. She moved to Brookfield, Connecticut in 1969 and later attended, but did not graduate from, Western Connecticut State University. She never graduated from college.[3] She received honorary law doctorates from the University of Hartford in 2001 and the University of New Haven in 2004.


Rell served as a Connecticut State Representative for the 107th District in Brookfield from 1985 until 1995. She became Lieutenant Governor after the 1994 election and won re-election in 1998 and 2002. Becoming governor in 2004 after John Rowland's resignation, Rell was elected to her own full term on November 7, 2006. She received approximately 710,000 votes, the highest total for any gubernatorial candidate in Connecticut history.[4]

In her first months in office, Rell had high approval ratings, with a December 2004 Quinnipiac University poll showing her at 80 percent, the highest rating ever measured by that poll for a governor in Connecticut.[5] She announced in October 2005 she would seek a four-year term in 2006, and was nominated by the Republican Party in May 2006 to seek a full term of her own. Stamford businessman and former state representative Michael Fedele was nominated as her running mate as Lieutenant Governor.

Rell defeated her Democratic opponent, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in the 2006 Connecticut gubernatorial election.[6]

In December 2007, Rell announced she was considering forming a committee for a 2010 re-election campaign.[7]

Governor of Connecticut

Connecticut welcome sign, updated with new governor's name as Rell takes office on July 1, 2004

On April 20, 2005, Rell signed into law a bill that made Connecticut the first state to adopt civil unions for same-sex couples without being directed to do so by a court. The law gives same-sex couples all of the 300+ rights, responsibilities, and privileges that the state gives to heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children, awarding state income tax credits, inheritance rights, and allowing same-sex partners to be considered next-of-kin when it comes to making medical decisions for incapacitated partners, yet does not require employers to give equal insurance benefits as they would to heterosexual couples. The bill was amended to define marriage as "between a man and a woman" after Rell threatened a veto. Rell signed the bill despite some Republican opposition to it, including from the Chairman of the State Republicans at the time.

Rell has subsequently announced that were the legislature to pass a bill establishing gay marriage in Connecticut, that she would veto the bill.[8]

During Rell's administration, Connecticut carried out the first execution in New England since 1960 when serial killer Michael Bruce Ross was put to death on May 13, 2005. Rell, who supports the death penalty, declined a request by Ross's lawyers to delay the execution in order for the state legislature to debate eliminating the death penalty. Legally, the Governor of Connecticut cannot commute a death sentence.[9]

One of Rell's firsts major decisions as governor on August 25, 2004, was to end the system put into place by the previous administration of housing prisoners in out-of-state corrections facilities. "Instead of sending inmates and tax dollars out of state, we can now more fully utilize correctional facilities and personnel in Connecticut," Governor Rell said. "It makes good policy and good fiscal sense." She continued, "This approach is in the best interests of the inmates, their families and our correction system. It will keep offenders closer to their families, their communities and to the support that is so critical for their successful reintegration into society."[10]

Rell faced another criminal justice issue in July 2007 when two paroled convicts were charged with the home invasion murders of the Petit family in Cheshire. Rell announced a panel would review the state's parole policies and create a study on the topic. She also reiterated her support of capital punishment. On July 31, 2007, she announced tighter parole policies and asked the legislature to define burglary of an occupied dwelling as a violent crime.[11] In September 2007, she announced a moratorium on the parole of violent offenders.[12] State Senator Sam Caligiuri had called for a full moratorium in July. Ironically, the man Rell appointed to chair the parole board, Robert Farr, wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant defending the state's parole system.[13] Rell announced in September that she does not believe Connecticut needs to build new prisons, send inmates out of state or expand any of the corrections facilities.[14]

In January 2008, Rell reached agreement with legislative leaders on a number of criminal justice reforms which were responsive to the systemic failures prior to the Cheshire home invasion. A special session in late January passed laws to toughen penalties for home invasion, and tighten parole procedures,[15] but did not pass a Three Strikes Law which Rell, Caligiuri, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney had favored.

Rell reiterated her call for a Three Strikes law on March 31, 2008, following the kidnapping and murder of an elderly New Britain woman committed by a convicted sex offender recently released from Connecticut prison.[16]

Rell supported the state's constitutional spending cap against pressure from groups favoring expanded state government to bypass the cap. As a result in late June 2006 the state reported a $910 million surplus for the prior year and the state's Rainy Day Fund exceeded $1 billion in deposits for the first time. In 2007 she shocked many of her supporters by proposing a state budget that would greatly exceed the spending cap to pay for added education spending. This program would require raising the state income tax. Republican legislators as well as a few Democrats, including (at least initially) House Speaker James Amann were skeptical of Rell's proposal.[17] An opinion poll showed opposition to raising the income tax, and widespread skepticism regarding Rell's claim her plan would reduce property taxes. As public opinion remained steadfast in opposition to an income tax hike, she changed her mind and withdrew her support for increased educational spending.[18] Rell originally had the support of the Connecticut Education Association for her proposal, but they later switched to the Democratic plan favoring even higher state taxes and no limits on property tax increases.[19] On May 9, 2007 Rell announced increased state revenues might make a tax hike unnecessary in 2007.[20] On June 1, 2007 Rell vetoed a Democratic plan that increased the income tax.[21] A compromise plan passed both houses of the legislature in late June that did not increase the income tax, but raised the cigarette tax and did not limit property taxes. It exceeded the state spending cap.[22]

Rell supports a lawsuit in response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed the lawsuit against the US Department of Education to force Congress and President George W. Bush to amend the act because, Rell contends, it would compel Connecticut to spend tens of millions to meet impossibly high standards, even as the state's schools perform at one of the highest levels in the nation. The act requires states to pay for standardized testing every school year, instead of every two years. Rell's State Department of Education says the extra testing will provide little new information about students' academic progress. Rell has been active on education issues; she gave the 2008 commencement address at Central Connecticut State University.

In 2005, Rell signed into law a Democratic plan to revive the Connecticut estate tax, despite, again, the opposition from most Republicans. The tax applies to estates worth $2 million or more. Critics say the tax will encourage wealthy citizens to leave and take their money with them. In 2006 Rell proposed the phase-out of her own tax, but the Democrat-controlled legislature ignored the proposal.

In 2005 Rell signed into law a campaign finance bill that banned contributions from lobbyists and would provide public financing for future campaigns. The law received support from Arizona Senator John McCain, who campaigned for Rell in Hartford on March 17, 2006.

In June 2006 Rell intervened with New London city officials, proposing that homeowners displaced by the Kelo v. New London court decision be deeded property so they may retain homes in the neighborhood. A settlement was reached with the homeowners on June 30, 2006.[23][24]

In 2007, Rell clashed with Democratic lawmakers over state bonding issues. Explaining that she felt the Democratic proposal spent too much funds that the state cannot afford, she called on them to renegotiate a new package with less spending. In October an agreement was reached that reduced the bond package by $400 million and the Governor signed it into law.

Various Democratic state legislators have questioned Rell's Chief-of-Staff Lisa Moody regarding a December 2005 political fundraiser that Moody invited state commissioners to attend. A number of attendees settled their dispute with the State Election Enforcement Commission by paying fines. Moody was not charged with a violation this because Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano said Moody was not considered a political appointee.[25]

On December 27, 2004, Rell underwent treatment after discovering she was in the early stages of breast cancer.[26]

In May 2008, Rell vetoed a bill to raise the minimum wage in the state of Connecticut. The legislature successfully voted to override Rell's veto in June 2008.[27] The legislation will raise Connecticut's current wage of $7.65 an hour to $8 beginning in January 2009, and to $8.25 an hour in 2010.

On October 10, 2008 Connecticut courts ruled that the ban of gay marriage violated citizens rights guaranteed to them by the constitution. Governor Jodi Rell responded by saying she would not fight the decision. “The Supreme Court has spoken,” she stated “I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision, either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution, will not meet with success.” However, on April 23, 2009, Rell signed a bill into law providing for a gender neutral marriage statute.[28] It also provides for civil unions to be automatically transformed into marriages on October 1, 2010.

In July, 2009 the Connecticut legislature overrode a veto by Rell to pass SustiNet, the first significant public-option health care reform legislation in the nation. [29]

On October 1, 2009 the budget adopted by the legislature raised the fishing license fee from $20 to $40 dollars.

Political future

Governor Rell was one of many Republicans mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president in the 2008 presidential election.[30] The presidential nominee John McCain chose Alaska's Sarah Palin as his running mate instead.

In April 2008, Rell's Lt. Governor, Michael Fedele told the media he expected Rell to run for re-election in 2010.[31] In August 2008 she told reporters she would file an exploratory committee for a 2010 reelection bid.[32] She announced on Nov. 9, 2009, that she would not seek re-election.[33] Currently, three Democrats, Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, former Speaker of the House James Amann, and 2006 Democratic nominee for Senate Ned Lamont, have announced their candidacy for governor. [34] One prominent Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, has announced that he will not run for governor; instead, he is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Chris Dodd in 2010.

Electoral history

Connecticut Gubernatorial Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican M. Jodi Rell (Incumbent) 709,849 63.2
Democratic John DeStefano, Jr. 398,220 35.5

Family life

Rell is married and has two grown children. In April 2006, she became a grandmother. Her 2006 campaign advertisements featured her with her grandson. Rell underwent surgery for breast cancer in December 2004 and has remained healthy since.[35]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "FORMER ODU STUDENT NAMED CONN. GOVERNOR". Old Dominion University News (Old Dominion University). 2004-06-22. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  3. ^ M. Jodi Rell News - The New York Times
  4. ^ "Governor/Connecticut". America Votes 2006 (Cable News Network). 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Grant, Steve (2006-11-08). "WITH DEFEAT VERY CLEAR, DESTEFANO CONCEDES RACE". The Hartford Courant: p. A7. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  7. ^,0,407087.story?coll=hc_tab01_layout
  8. ^ Associated Press (2007-01-27). "Rell Would Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill". The Hartford Courant (Tribune Company).,0,2773496.story?coll=hc-headlines-local. Retrieved 2007-02-15. 
  9. ^ Haigh, Susan (2004-12-02). "Rell Feels Pressure on Both Sides Over Execution". Public Defenders in the News (State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services). Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  10. ^ Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Prison Inmates Will Return from Virginia
  11. ^ Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Major Crackdown on Parole, Supervision of ‘Burglary II’ Offenders.
  12. ^ Topic Galleries -
  13. ^ CAPITOL WATCH: A Defense of Parole - From Bob Farr in 1999.
  14. ^ Gregory B. Hladky (2007-09-25). "Rell Won't Testify On Parole Reforms". New Haven Register (Journal Register Company). Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  15. ^,0,527901.story
  16. ^
  17. ^ Associated Press (2007-02-08). "Reaction to Gov. M. Jodi Rell's two-year budget plan". The Hartford Courant (Tribune Company).,0,5783037.story. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  18. ^ Quinnipiac University Poll (2007-02-15). "Connecticut Voters Like Gov Rell, But Not Tax Hike, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Mixed On Gay Marriage, Civil Unions". Press release. Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  19. ^, Connecticut News and Weather - No support for Rell's budget plan.
  20. ^ Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Little or No Tax Increases Will Be Required in Her Proposed Budget.
  21. ^ Governor Rell: Governor Rell Vetoes Democratic Tax Plan.
  22. ^ Topic Galleries -
  23. ^ "Rell: Deeds For Fort Trumbull Homeowners". The Hartford Courant. 2006-06-02.,0,595545.story?coll=hc-headlines-local. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  24. ^ Kramer, John E.; Knepper, Lisa (2006-06-02). "Connecticut Gov. Rell Clarifies Her Statement: She Supports Returning Deeds to Family-Occupied Homes". Cases. Institute for Justice. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  25. ^ Cox, Erin (2006-03-08). "Rell commissioners fined for fundraiser invitations". WTNH NewsChannel 8 (WorldNow). Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  26. ^ Detelj, Tina (2004-12-27). "Rell has long history promoting Breast Cancer Awareness". WTNH NewsChannel 8 (WorldNow). Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  27. ^ "Legislature Overrides Minimum Wage Veto". WTIC (AM) News/ Talk 1080. 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  28. ^,0,664738.story
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^,0,2241157.story
  32. ^
  33. ^,0,2210088.story
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Press Release: Governor Rell Leaves Hospital After Breast Cancer Surgery". 

External links

Connecticut House of Representatives
Preceded by
David W. Smith
Connecticut state representative for the 107th District
Succeeded by
Scott Santa-Maria
Political offices
Preceded by
Eunice Groark
Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Kevin Sullivan
Preceded by
John G. Rowland
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Jaekle
Republican Party Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
1994 (won), 1998 (won), 2002 (won)
Succeeded by
Michael Fedele
Preceded by
John G. Rowland
Republican Party Nominee for Governor of Connecticut
2006 (won)
Succeeded by
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Joe Biden
Vice President of the United States
Jill Biden
Second Lady
United States order of precedence
when inside the state of Connecticut

as of 2009
Succeeded by
Mayors of Connecticut cities if present
next fixed Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sonny Perdue
Governor of Georgia
United States order of precedence
when outside the state of Connecticut

as of 2009
Succeeded by
Deval Patrick
Governor of Massachusetts

[[Category:21st-century American Episcopalians]

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