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Monday, October 24, 2005

Sullivan gets no respect

The Hartford Courant came out with an article detailing the relationship between Gov. Rell and Lt. Gov Kevin Sullivan and it seems like they don't get along too well.

From the Hartford Courant
Kevin Sullivan felt slighted once again.

It was the day of a special session at the state Capitol on the controversial issue of campaign finance reform. The top legislative leaders had gathered in Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office for a meeting, but Sullivan, the Democratic lieutenant governor and presiding officer of the Senate, had not been invited. The meeting had already started by the time Sullivan's office was finally notified at 9:15 a.m.

That oversight prompted Sullivan to write an extraordinary, eight-paragraph letter to Rell that detailed the incident and complained about "repeated last-minute invitations" to key meetings. The letter then segued into an unusual public discussion about the power of the governor and the limits of the lieutenant governor.

"In conclusion, I get that you are governor and I am not," Sullivan wrote. "I understand and accept that you and your staff get to call the shots. But I do not understand the pattern of disrespect from your office and your staff toward me and mine."

Rell's aides say the entire incident was an honest mistake by a staff member, but Sullivan refuses to accept that explanation.

"There are too many honest-to-goodness oversights," Sullivan said.

The incident typifies a series of public clashes between Rell and Sullivan over the past year, and it signals Sullivan's frustrating quandary: Once one of the most powerful figures at the state Capitol, he was promoted to insignificance 16 months ago and now faces an uncertain future.


If Rell wins election to a full term as governor, Sullivan will be out of his $110,000-a-year post as lieutenant governor in early January 2007 - less than 15 months away. Sullivan, 56, does not have a fallback; he no longer holds a part-time post at Trinity College as the vice president for community and institutional relations.

He cannot go back to the state Senate because his seat is now filled, and the chances for Congress are remote with Democrat John B. Larson entrenched in a district dominated by Democrats.

Sullivan is in a tough position being a Democrat and the Governor being a Republican. He's basically out of a job in Jan 2007 and although it isn't too late to get in the race for governor, he'll have to jump into the mix with two candidates who have campaigned for the last year.

"It's still a long way from the big day," he says of the November 2006 election. "I have not said I'm not running. I have not said I am running. I have not made that decision. I don't need to make that decision" yet.

But few expect him to join the two Democratic mayors who have already spent months and raised millions for the campaign.

The real problem is tghat Sullivan has always been a big political figure in Connecticut and Lieutenant Governor is a relative quiet position where you really don't have much power (did anyone even notice Rell when Rowland was Governor).

Rep. Robert Farr, a veteran West Hartford Republican, said Sullivan is adjusting to a new political reality after serving in the majority for much of his career and leading the Senate for years. Life as lieutenant governor is different.

"You have no real power," Farr said. "All I can say is welcome to the minority. ... Kevin is a survivor. His career has ended more than once - or so they thought."

Farr noted that some at the Capitol once believed that Sullivan might be ousted by his own Democratic caucus as president pro tem, but he fought back against a challenge and emerged the winner.

Former state GOP Chairman Richard Foley said he is surprised that Sullivan has not jumped into the governor's race, adding that Jan. 1 is the latest that he could enter.

"I wouldn't mind being the only Hartford-area Irish candidate," Foley said of Sullivan. "I wouldn't mind being the lieutenant governor. ... If he's thinking about running, banging away at Rell is exactly what he should do."

Rell's spokesman, Rich Harris, said Rell would have no comment on Sullivan's political future.

Sullivan is considering non-political options, particularly in education.

"I need to figure out what the rest of my life will be - at least the next five years," he said. "In life, you have all these roads."
It's not too late for Sullivan to get into the election and personally, I'm surprised that he's not in the race now. If he's planning to make a run for it, why didn't he announce his intentions months ago?