M. Jodi Rell

Infobox Governor


caption=
order=72nd
office= Governor of Connecticut
term_start= July 1, 2004
term_end=
lieutenant= Kevin B. Sullivan (2004-2007) Michael Fedele (2007-present)
predecessor= John G. Rowland
successor= Incumbent
order2=85th
office2= Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut
term_start2= January 4, 1995
term_end2= July 1, 2004
governor2= John G. Rowland
predecessor2= Eunice Groark
successor2= Kevin B. Sullivan
birth_date= birth date and age | 1946|06|16
birth_place= Norfolk, Virginia
residence= Brookfield, Connecticut
alma_mater= HS diploma
spouse=Lou Rell
profession= Political Aide, Public Official
party= Republican
religion=Episcopalian

Mary Jodi Rell (born June 16, 1946) is a Republican politician who became the 72nd Governor of the U.S. state of Connecticut on July 1, 2004. She had been the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut until Governor John G. Rowland resigned during a corruption investigation. Rell is Connecticut's second female Governor, after Ella T. Grasso.

Career

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. [cite news |title=Governor/Connecticut |url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/CT/G/00/index.html |work=America Votes 2006 |publisher=Cable News Network |date=2006-11-08 |accessdate=2007-02-05]

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 the Quinnipiac University poll for a governor in Connecticut. [http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1296.xml?ReleaseID=556] 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 [cite news |first=Steve |last=Grant |title=WITH DEFEAT VERY CLEAR, DESTEFANO CONCEDES RACE |url=http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/courant/access/1158653271.html?dids=1158653271:1158653271&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Nov+8%2C+2006&author=STEVE+GRANT&pub=Hartford+Courant&edition=&startpage=A.7&desc=WITH+DEFEAT+VERY+CLEAR%2C+DESTEFANO+CONCEDES+RACE+ |work=The Hartford Courant |page=A7 |date=2006-11-08 |accessdate=2007-02-05] . See also Connecticut gubernatorial election, 2006.

In December 2007, Rell announced she was considering forming a committee for a 2010 re-election campaign [http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hc-ap-rell2010-1217,0,407087.story?coll=hc_tab01_layout] . Her job approval in a recent Quinnipiac University poll was 77%. Due to sustained popularity Rell has affectionately been nicknamed "Mama Rell" by many in the state.

Governor of Connecticut

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 homosexual 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 homosexual 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. [cite news |authorlink=Associated Press |author=Associated Press |title=Rell Would Veto Same-Sex Marriage Bill |url=http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-ctgaymarriageveto0127.artjan27,0,2773496.story?coll=hc-headlines-local |work=The Hartford Courant |publisher=Tribune Company |date=2007-01-27 |accessdate=2007-02-15]

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. [cite news |first=Susan |last=Haigh |title=Rell Feels Pressure on Both Sides Over Execution |url=http://www.ocpd.state.ct.us/Content/PDNEWS/120204%20associated%20press.htm |work=Public Defenders in the News |publisher=State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services |date=2004-12-02 |accessdate=2007-02-05]

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." [ [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?A=1793&Q=277168 Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Prison Inmates Will Return from Virginia ] ]

Rell's style of governance by letter faced a test in the aftermath of her inaugural parade. On January 3, 2007 photographer, political opponent and avowed Rell critic Ken Krayeske was arrested for taking photos at her inaugural parade. Krayeske ran the campaign of Cliff Thornton, her Green Party gubernatorial opponent, in autumn 2006. Rell expressed regret about Krayeske's arrest, but no one has ever been held accountable for his mysterious incarceration and later release. Rell sent a letter demanding an explanation to Len Boyle, then Commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety. Krayeske, a pacifist, had been placed on a list potential violent threats to the governor, perhaps by Rell's state police security detail. Boyle resigned soon afterwards.

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. [ [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?Q=390200&A=2791 Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Major Crackdown on Parole, Supervision of ‘Burglary II’ Offenders ] ] In September 2007, she announced a moratorium on the parole of violent offenders [ [http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hc-noparole-0921,0,3863424.story?coll=hc_tab01_layout Topic Galleries - Courant.com ] ] . 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 [ [http://blogs.courant.com/capitol_watch/2007/07/a-defense-of-pa.html CAPITOL WATCH: A Defense of Parole - From Bob Farr in 1999 ] ] . 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 [cite news |authorlink=New Haven Register |author=Gregory B. Hladky |title=Rell Won't Testify On Parole Reforms |url=http://www.nhregister.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18850128&BRD=1281&PAG=461&dept_id=31007&rfi=6 |work=New Haven Register |publisher=Journal Register Company |date=2007-09-25 |accessdate=2007-10-16]

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 [http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-ctdemplan0108.artjan08,0,527901.story] , 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 [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?Q=412458&A=3293]

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. [cite news |authorlink=Associated Press |author=Associated Press |title=Reaction to Gov. M. Jodi Rell's two-year budget plan |url=http://www.courant.com/news/local/statewire/hc-08014117.apds.m0663.bc-ct-xgr--feb08,0,5783037.story |work=The Hartford Courant |publisher=Tribune Company |date=2007-02-08 |accessdate=2007-02-11] 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. [cite press release |title=Connecticut Voters Like Gov Rell, But Not Tax Hike, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Voters Mixed On Gay Marriage, Civil Unions |publisher=Quinnipiac University |date=2007-02-15 |url=http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1296.xml?ReleaseID=1017 |accessdate=2007-02-20] 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. [ [http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=6433814 WTNH.com, Connecticut News and Weather - No support for Rell's budget plan ] ] On May 9, 2007 Rell announced increased state revenues might make a tax hike unnecessary in 2007. [ [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?Q=379688&A=2791 Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Little or No Tax Increases Will Be Required in Her Proposed Budget ] ] On June 1, 2007 Rell vetoed a Democratic plan that increased the income tax [ [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?Q=382582&A=2791 Governor Rell: Governor Rell Vetoes Democratic Tax Plan ] ] . 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. [ [http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-ap-budget-deal-0625,0,355293.story?coll=hc-headlines-local Topic Galleries - Courant.com ] ]

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 2 years. Rell's State Department of Education says the extra testing will provide little new information about students' academic progress.

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. [cite news |title=Rell: Deeds For Fort Trumbull Homeowners |url=http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-02143800.apds.m0296.bc-ct--seizjun02,0,595545.story?coll=hc-headlines-local |work=The Hartford Courant |date=2006-06-02 |accessdate=2007-02-05] [cite web |url=http://www.ij.org/private_property/connecticut/6_2_06pr.html |title=Connecticut Gov. Rell Clarifies Her Statement: She Supports Returning Deeds to Family-Occupied Homes |accessdate=2007-02-05 |last=Kramer |first=John E. |coauthors=Knepper, Lisa |date=2006-06-02 |work=Cases |publisher=Institute for Justice]

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. [cite news |first=Erin |last=Cox |title=Rell commissioners fined for fundraiser invitations |url=http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=4601022 |work=WTNH NewsChannel 8 |publisher=WorldNow |date=2006-03-08 |accessdate=2007-02-05]

On December 27, 2004, Rell underwent treatment after discovering she was in the early stages of breast cancer. [cite news |first=Tina |last=Detelj |title=Rell has long history promoting Breast Cancer Awareness |url=http://www.wtnh.com/Global/story.asp?S=2737705&nav=3YeXUaPQ |work=WTNH NewsChannel 8 |publisher=WorldNow |date=2004-12-27 |accessdate=2007-02-05]

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. [cite news |title=Legislature Overrides Minimum Wage Veto |url=http://www.wtic.com/pages/2465853.php? |work=WTIC (AM) News/ Talk 1080 |date=2008-6-23 |accessdate=2008-07-29] 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 10th 2008 Connecticut courts ruled that the ban of gay marriage violated citizens rights guaranteed to them by the constitution. Governor Jodi Rell responded by say she would not fight the descision.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.”

Political Future

Governor Rell was one of many Republicans mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president in the 2008 presidential election. [http://www.wfsb.com/politics/15342264/detail.html] Another female governor with a relatively low nationwide profile was the eventual choice: the presidential nominee John McCain chose Alaska's Sarah Palin as his running mate.

In April 2008, Rell's Lt. Governor, Michael Fedele told the media he expected Rell to run for re-election in 2010. [http://www.courant.com/news/custom/topnews/hc-rell0412.artapr12,0,2241157.story] In August 2008 she told reporters she would file an exploratory committee for a 2010 reelection bid. [http://www.everydayrepublican.com/2008/08/15/breaking-governor-files-exploratory-committee/]

Electoral History

Election box candidate with party link
|party = Republican Party (US)
candidate = M. Jodi Rell (Incumbent)
votes = 709,849
percentage = 63.2
change =
Election box candidate with party link
|party = Democratic Party (US)
candidate = John DeStefano, Jr.
votes = 398,220
percentage = 35.5
change =

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. [cite web |url=http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?A=1793&Q=288318 |title=Press Release: Governor Rell Leaves Hospital After Breast Cancer Surgery]

In November 2007, her husband was diagnosed with cancer related to Barrett's Disease and was scheduled for an operation to remove a tumor.

ee also

*List of Governors of Connecticut
*List of female state governors in the United States

References

External links

* [http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/site/default.asp Connecticut Office of the Governor M. Jodi Rell] official state site
* [http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.29fab9fb4add37305ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=257d224971c81010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD National Governors Association - Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell] biography
* [http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?si=20067&c=415475 Follow the Money - M. Jodi Rell] 2006 campaign contributions
* [http://www.ontheissues.org/Jodi_Rell.htm On the Issues - Jodi Rell] issue positions and quotes
* [http://www.vote-smart.org/bio.php?can_id=BG075044 Project Vote Smart - Governor M. Jodi Rell (CT)] profile
* [http://www.jodirell06.com Jody Rell for Governor] official campaign site


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