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Susan Bysiewicz

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Susan Bysiewicz
Susan Bysiewicz.jpeg
Candidate for
U.S. Senate, Connecticut
PartyDemocratic
Prior offices
Connecticut Secretary of State
1998-2010
Education
Bachelor'sYale University (1983)
J.D.Duke University School of Law (1986)
Websites
Personal website
Campaign website
Susan Bysiewicz campaign logo
Susan Bysiewicz (born 1961 in Middletown, Connecticut) was the Connecticut Secretary of State from 1998-2010. Bysiewicz was a 2012 Democratic candidate who sought election to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut. Bysiewicz was defeated by Christopher S. Murphy in the Democratic primary on August 14, 2012.[1]

Biography

  • Bachelor's degree, Yale University (1983)
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Duke University School of Law (1986)

Career

In the midst of her pursuit for a law degree, Bysiewicz wrote Ella: A Biography of Governor Ella Grasso, a pioneer in women's roles in politics and the first woman elected governor of Connecticut, in 1984. Following law school, she practiced law in New York as an attorney at Robinson & Cole from 1988 to 1992 and then in Hartford at Aetna Insurance Company until 1994.

Issues

Controversies

Murphy Hedge Fund accusations

On July 19, 2012, Bysiewicz began airing an ad that took aim at her rival for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, Christopher S. Murphy.[2] The problem was, Bysiewicz made an error and was actually attacking Murphy based on information about former Congressman Scott Murphy (D-NY).[2]

The ad accused Christopher S. Murphy of taking “more hedge fund money than any Democrat in Congress.”[2] In 2010, the top Democratic recipient of hedge fund contributions was Scott Murphy (D-NY), but not Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT) as the ad falsely claimed.[2]

Dead registered voters

See also: Dead people voting

University of Connecticut journalism professor Marcel Dufresne led an eleven student class investigation into dead voters in the state of Connecticut. His group discovered 8,558 deceased individuals who were still registered on Connecticut voter rolls. Even more troubling was the revelation that more than three hundred of them appeared somehow to have cast ballots after they died.

While votes were cast and counted in the names of the dead, Susan Bysiewicz insisted that "there was no voter fraud at all in the state of Connecticut."[3] She went on to say, "While we want to remove dead people from the rolls, we don’t want to be overzealous and disenfranchise people."[4]

Qualifications

Almost immediately after Bysiewicz announced she would be campaigning to be the state's attorney general, questions concerning her legal qualifications to hold the position were raised by state political commentators. Critics specifically cited Title III, Chapter 35, Section 3-124 of the General Statutes of Connecticut, which states, "The Attorney General shall be an attorney of law of at least ten years’ active practice at the bar of this state," as to her disqualification from running for the statewide office.[5] Although she received a law degree and became an attorney in the state of Connecticut in 1986, she only actively practiced for six years before becoming a state legislator and then secretary of state.

At the same time, however, others argued that the state constitution, which takes precedence over the general statutes, cites the minimum age of eighteen as the only requirement in order to be considered for any state office.[6]

Susan Bysiewicz for Attorney General Campaign logo

Upon seeking a legal opinion from the current State Attorney General to clear up the matter, Blumenthal responded that, although he believed the law to be valid, this was something that could only be rectified by either the courts or legislature.[7][8]

Bysiewicz announced on February 18 that she would seek a ruling from a Hartford Superior Court judge to determine her eligibility.[9]

A little over a month later, the Connecticut Secretary of State fielded questions for over five hours "during an all-day, pretrial deposition in her lawsuit seeking a judge's declaration that she is eligible to run for state attorney general."[10] Her lawyer, Wesley W. Horton, then filed a "protective order" motion to prevent either the transcript or videotape of the deposition from being released, though no justification for the motion was given.[11] The next day, however, Horton withdrew this request, acknowledging local newspapers had a right to these documents.[12]

With just three weeks left until state Democrats met to endorse party candidates for the 2010 election cycle, Superior Court Judge Michael Sheldon ruled on Wednesday, May 6, 2010, "that Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz meets the qualifications to hold the office of attorney general."[13] Nearly ten days after the ruling was issued, the State GOP filed an appeal challenging the ruling.[14]

The State Supreme Court, which ordered attorneys on both sides to file briefs Friday, May 14, set Tuesday, May 18, as the date that it would hear oral arguments.[15] Rather surprisingly, on the exact same day the justices convened to hear the grievance, they announced that they had unanimously reached a decision. The seven justices, "troubled by the minimal standards set by [ Superior Court Judge] Sheldon," reversed the decision and declared that Bysiewicz was ineligible to run for the statewide office of attorney general.[16] The Connecticut Secretary of State, who was not present at the hearing, released a statement in which she expresses her disappointment "with the court's decision overturning Judge [Michael] Sheldon's ruling" and that while she strongly disagreed with the "decision both on the eligibility and the constitutionality issue," she does "respect the rule of law and will abide by it."[16] In a statement released on Thursday, May 20, she announced that not only would she not seek the office of state attorney general, but she would also not seek re-election in her current state governmental position.[17] One of the mitigating factors for this course of action was finances. After having transferred all her gubernatorial campaign contributions into her campaign for attorney general, Bysiewicz was forbidden by state law from doing so for another race. In other words, to raise the financial capital necessary to run a successful campaign, she would have needed to start from scratch, which, at such a late point, would be very difficult, if not impossible.

Use of database information

A state Republican political activist filed a complaint in October 2009 charging that Bysiewicz used "a database of citizens' names to send out unsoliticed emails seeking campaign contributions."[18] Bysiewicz insisted that "what she did was legal because the database is a public document." Regardless, her challengers for the Democratic nomination in the state's attorney general contest criticized her actions, arguing that "this kind of gaming the system is what makes people cynical about government and politics."[19]

Connecticut

A month later, however, the Hartford Courant published an article on March 10, 2010, describing the database as something more than just a list of names. The database of over thirty-six thousand individuals contained "thousands of what are labeled 'special notes' on people's political connections and personal characteristics, including some medical conditions [as well as] 'Ethnicity,' which identifies 2,431 people as either Jewish, Greek, Polish, African American, Hispanic or Native American."[20]

Shortly after a State Superior Court Judge ruled that Bysiewicz met the qualifications to hold the office of state attorney general, Blumenthal released a statement that his office was "reviewing all of the whistle-blower allegations made against the Secretary of the State, including some received very recently" regarding the use of the database information.[21] The State GOP put pressure on Blumenthal to reach a decision about the matter, arguing that "three months is more than enough time to find out whether Bysiewicz illegally used state resources for political purposes."[21]

Other roles

  • Member, Connecticut Public Affairs Network (1998-present)
  • Member, National Association of Secretaries of State (1998-present)
  • Honorary Chair, Polish American Advisory Council (1998-present)
  • Member, Women's Campaign School at Yale University (1998-present)
  • Honorary Chair, Student Parent Mock Election (2002)

Elections

1998

Secretary of State

Prior to being elected Secretary of State, Bysiewicz was voted state representative for the 100th Assembly District of Connecticut for three successive terms starting in 1992, representing up to 22,000 constituents.

In 1998, she sought the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State. Even though at the state Democratic Convention she lost the party's endorsement to Representative Ellen Scalettar, she garnered enough delegates to qualify to run for the nomination in the primary. Bysiewicz went on to win both the nomination and the office itself in the November general election.

  • 1998 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
  • Susan Bysiewicz ran unopposed in this contest
1998 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[22]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Susan Bysiewicz 59.1%
     Republican Party Ben Andrews 39.8%
     Libertarian Party Kenneth F. Mosher 1.1%
Total Votes 899,624

2002

  • 2002 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
  • Susan Bysiewicz ran unopposed in this contest
2002 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[23]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Susan Bysiewicz 64.2%
     Republican Party Ronald S. San Angelo 34.3%
     Libertarian Party Darlene H. Nicholas 1.5%
Total Votes 952,164

2006

  • 2006 Race for Secretary of State - Democratic Primary
  • Susan Bysiewicz ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[24]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Susan Bysiewicz 69.8%
     Republican Party Richard J. Abbate 26.4%
     Green Party S. Michael DeRosa 1.8%
     Libertarian Party Kenneth F. Mosher 1.2%
     Concerned Citizens Jean Marie Burness 0.8%
Total Votes 1,044,871

2010

Attorney General

See also: Connecticut Attorney General election, 2010

Bysiewicz announced in January 2009 that she would be a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination the Connecticut gubernatorial race. A Quinnipiac University poll taken in February 2009 showed that of four potential Democratic Party candidates for the nomination, Bysiewicz led the pack with 44% favoring her candidacy.[25] Eight months later, however, the Connecticut Secretary of State's own exploratory committee released the results of a survey that seemed to demonstrate eroding support for her campaign. While she still led her main rival for the Democratic nomination, Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, in a head-to-head matchup by a significant margin, the percentage of those who had chosen her over other candidates in the Democratic primary had fallen to 31%.[26]

In a somewhat surprising move, nearly a year after she announced her candidacy for the gubernatorial seat in the state of Connecticut, Bysiewicz declared she would be switching her bid for governor to that of state attorney general. Bysiewicz's change in course came on the heels of the two major announcements made that same month that "Sen. Christopher Dodd would not seek re-election and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal would run for Dodd’s seat." There is speculation that financial concerns were the main reason for the switch, noting that "by going for the attorney general job, Bysiewicz could be avoiding a funding arms race with wealthy gubernatorial candidates like Ned Lamont and Tom Foley."[27]

However, with the ruling from the Connecticut Supreme Court in mid-May 2010 that she is ineligible to run for the statewide office, Bysiewicz withdrew her name from consideration just prior to the state's Democratic convention. In a statement released on Thursday, May 20, she announced that not only would she not seek the office of state attorney general, but she would also not seek re-election in her current state governmental position.[17] One of the mitigating factors for this course of action was finances. After having transferred all her gubernatorial campaign contributions into her campaign for attorney general, Bysiewicz is forbidden by state law from doing so for another race. In other words, to raise the financial capital necessary to run a successful campaign, she would have to start from scratch, which, at this late point, would be very difficult, if not impossible.

2012

U.S. Senate

See also: United States Senate elections in Connecticut, 2012

Bysiewicz ran in the 2012 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Connecticut. Bysiewicz was defeated by Christopher S. Murphy in the Democratic primary on August 14, 2012.[1]

Polls

2012

Connecticut's Democratic Senate Primary Candidates
Poll Christopher S. Murphy Susan BysiewiczMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University Poll
(May 29-June 3, 2012)
50%20%+/-2.61,408
Public Policy Polling
(July 26-29, 2012)
49%32%+/-4.9771
AVERAGES 49.5% 26% +/-3.75 1,089.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org

Campaign contributions

2006 Race for Secretary of State - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $815,144
Total Raised by Primary Opponent N/A
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $48,682
Top 5 Contributors Richard M. Leibert $1,500 (0.18% of Total)
Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 777 $1,500 (0.18%)
Leo Van Munching Jr. $1,500 (0.18%)
Tammy Levine $1,500 (0.18%)
Paul T. Breitenbach $1,500 (0.18%)
Other Notable Contributors Connecticut Healthcare District 1199/SEIU $1,500 (0.18%)
Individuals v. Institutions $742,505 (91.1%)
$57,040 (7.0%)
In v. Outside State $767,326 (95.0%)
$40,225 (5.0%)

Personal

Susan Bysiewicz currently resides in Middletown, Connecticut with her husband, David Donaldson, and their three children - Ava, Leyna, and Tristan. She is a practicing Roman Catholic.

External links

The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from May 9, 2010.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 AP Results, "U.S. Senate Elections Results" accessed August 14, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Chris Murphy for U.S. Senate, "Another Bysiewicz Disaster: Attack Ad Hits Wrong Murphy" accessed July 20, 2012
  3. Fox News Dead voters still showing up on election records, puzzling officials" 4 June, 2008
  4. Scatterin' O' the Thoughts, "More ACORN arrests" 8 Oct. 2008
  5. General Statutes of Connecticut - Chapter 35, sec. 3-124
  6. Connecticut State Library - Constitution of the State of Connecticut
  7. Middletown Press, "Bysiewicz seeks legal opinion on ‘active practice’" 21 Jan. 2010
  8. WTIC "AG Says Bysiewicz's Qualifications Still Unclear" 2 Feb. 2010
  9. News Times, "Bysiewicz to ask court to rule on AG viability" 18 Feb. 2010
  10. The Hartford Courant, "Bysiewicz Questioned In Deposition For Lawsuit On Attorney General Campaign" 1 April, 2010
  11. The Hartford Courant, "Bysiewicz Asks Judge To Block Release Of Her Testimony In Lawsuit" 6 April, 2010
  12. New Haven Register, "1,000 pages of transcripts released in Bysiewicz case (docs)" 6 April, 2010
  13. Boston Herald, "Judge rules Susan Bysiewicz is qualified for Conn. AG" 5 May, 2010
  14. Republican American, "Bysiewicz database adds to political challenges" 15 May, 2010
  15. The Hartford Courant, "Bysiewicz Case: Court To Hear Appeal Next Week" 13 May, 2010
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Hartford Courant, "Supreme Court Rules Against Bysiewicz" 19 May, 2010
  17. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named hc052110
  18. Middletown Press, "Bysiewicz investigated for using taxpayer-funded database to aid her campaign" 7 Feb. 2010
  19. The Hartford Courant, "2 Democratic Rivals Criticize Bysiewicz's Use Of Database For Fundraising E-Mails" 12 Feb. 2010
  20. The Hartford Courant, "Bysiewicz's 'Notes' Criticized By GOP And By Democratic Rivals" 11 March, 2010
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Hartford Courant, "GOP Prods AG On Bysiewicz Inquiry" 9 May, 2010
  22. Connecticut Secretary of State - Vote for Secretary of State 1998
  23. Connecticut Secretary of State - Vote for Secretary of State 2002
  24. Connecticut Secretary of State - Vote for Secretary of State 2006
  25. Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, "Connecticut's Rell Is Queen Of The Hill At Midterm, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Dodd Has Worst Approval Ever" 10 Feb. 2009
  26. Connecticut News, "Susan Bysiewicz Still Way Ahead In Democratic Run For Governor" 27 Oct. 2009
  27. The Middletown Press, "Bysiewicz to seek AG spot" 13 Jan. 2010
Political offices
Preceded by
Miles S. Rapoport
Connecticut Secretary of State
1999–2010
Succeeded by
Denise Merrill