Mary Jodi Rell (born June
16, 1946) is a Republican politician and has been the 72nd Governor of the U.S. state of
Connecticut since July 1, 2004.
She was the Lieutenant Governor of
under Governor John
, who resigned during
Rell is Connecticut's second female
, after Ella T. Grasso
. On Nov. 9, 2009, Rell announced she
would not seek re-election in 2010.
Mary Carolyn Reavis in Norfolk,
attended Old Dominion
University, but left in 1967 to marry Lou Rell, a US Navy pilot.
Connecticut in 1969 and later attended, but did not graduate
from, Western Connecticut State
She never graduated from college.
received honorary law doctorates from the University of
Hartford in 2001 and the University of New Haven in 2004.
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.
In her first months in office, Rell had high approval ratings, with
a December 2004 Quinnipiac
showing her at 80 percent, the highest rating
ever measured by that poll for a governor in Connecticut. 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
nominated as her running mate as Lieutenant Governor.
defeated her Democratic opponent,
Haven Mayor John
DeStefano, Jr. in the 2006 Connecticut
In December 2007, Rell announced she was considering forming a
committee for a 2010 re-election campaign.
Governor of Connecticut
On April 20, 2005, Rell signed into law a bill
that made Connecticut the
first state to adopt civil unions
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
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
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
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."
Rell faced another criminal justice issue in July 2007 when two
convicts were charged with the
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
of an occupied dwelling as
a violent crime. In September 2007, she announced a moratorium on
the parole of violent offenders. 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. 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
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, but did not pass a Three Strikes Law
which Rell, Caligiuri,
and Senate Minority Leader John
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
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
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
were skeptical of Rell's
proposal. 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. Rell
originally had the support of the Connecticut Education
for her proposal, but they later switched to the
Democratic plan favoring even higher state taxes and no limits on
property tax increases. On May 9, 2007 Rell announced increased
state revenues might make a tax hike unnecessary in 2007. On June
1, 2007 Rell vetoed a Democratic plan that increased the income
tax. 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
On December 27, 2004, Rell underwent treatment after discovering
she was in the early stages of breast
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. 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
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. 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.
On October 1, 2009 the budget adopted by the legislature raised the
fishing license fee from $20 to $40 dollars.
Governor Rell was one of many Republicans mentioned as a potential
candidate for vice president in the 2008 presidential election.
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. In August 2008 she told
reporters she would file an exploratory committee for a 2010
reelection bid. She announced on Nov. 9, 2009, that she would not
seek re-election. Currently, three Democrats, Stamford Mayor
, former Speaker of the House
, and Secretary of State
, have announced
their candidacy for governor. In addition 2006 Democratic nominee
for Senate Ned Lamont
has announced an
exploratory committee. One prominent Democrat, Richard Blumenthal
, has announced that he
will not run for governor; instead, it is widely presumed that he
will face Joe Lieberman
for his Senate
seat in 2012.
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.
- M. Jodi Rell News - The New York Times
- Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Prison
Inmates Will Return from Virginia
- Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Major
Crackdown on Parole, Supervision of ‘Burglary II’
- Topic Galleries - Courant.com.
- CAPITOL WATCH: A Defense of Parole - From Bob Farr
- WTNH.com, Connecticut News and Weather - No support
for Rell's budget plan.
- Governor Rell: Governor Rell Announces Little or No
Tax Increases Will Be Required in Her Proposed Budget.
- Governor Rell: Governor Rell Vetoes Democratic Tax
- Topic Galleries - Courant.com.
- Democrats Eye Governor's Seat.