THE CONNECTICUT POLITICAL SCENE HAS LOST ITS COLLECTIVE MIND

Just when you thought that the current election cycle couldn’t get any more historic—or any more weird—yesterday happened. In the last week of the campaign two stakeholders—one candidate and one candidate’s husband—went to court in somewhat desperate attempts to affect the outcome of Tuesday’s elections.

Dean goes to court. Republican candidate for attorney general Martha Dean is going to court alleging that her Democratic opponent, George Jepsen, is not qualified to hold the office. She says Jepsen lacks the 10 years of “active practice” of law required by state statute. “Active practice” is not defined in the law but the opinion of the state Supreme Court in the case that kept Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz off the ballot for AG spells out some fairly narrow requirements for it, including having tried cases in court.

The Court’s opinion said, in part, “We conclude … that … the [statutory] phrase ‘attorney at law of at least ten years’ active practice at the bar of this state’ means an attorney with at least some experience litigating cases in court.”
In her suit, Dean claims Jepsen has spent much of his career in “non-legal, political positions.” The suit says Jepsen lacks experience as a litigator and points to the former state senate majority leader and party chairman’s statements in the campaign such as, “I don’t have a background in litigation” and “I’m not a litigator by background or nature,” reported the Hartford Courant.
Jepsen said Tuesday that he has the “legal experience in and out of court to satisfy any interpretation of the court’s standard…I am and have been a practicing attorney for 26 years…I have made my living from private practice. I have represented clients in courts in this state, from probate courts up to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Martha Dean says she is not a politician and is running to stop the practice of frivolous lawsuits. Frankly, I have yet to see a lawsuit more political or frivolous than this one,” he said.

Vince McMahon goes to court against Susan Bysiewicz. In one of the more bizarre developments in the 2010 campaign, WWE chief and wrestling mogul Vince McMahon, husband of Republican US Senate candidate Linda McMahon, filed suit for relief from statements made by the secretary of state. Bysiewicz caused controversy when her office said it had informally advised registrars of voters in the state to watch for voters wearing wrestling paraphernalia that could boost Linda McMahon’s candidacy.

Vince McMahon charged out like a wrestler being tagged into a match. “On behalf of myself, my company, WWE fans and any Connecticut citizen who wants to exercise their constitutional right to vote, I have filed a lawsuit today asserting that Susan Bysiewicz’s directive that allows poll workers to refuse registered voters wearing WWE merchandise the right to vote is a flagrant act of censorship and discrimination,” he said in a press release. McMahon added said he intends to wear WWE garb when he casts his ballot “to protest the directive of the secretary of the state…The Secretary of the State’s directive threatens to violate my right to vote and, in my view, my rights to free speech and expression,” McMahon wrote.

Bysiewicz, for her part, walked back her office’s previous statements. She told the Hartford Courant, “If somebody walks in wearing a Hulk Hogan shirt, that’s not a problem,” she said. “If someone is wearing a T-shirt that says vote for Dick Blumenthal or Linda McMahon, clearly those kind of items are prohibited.”

The thought here is, let the voters decide who is qualified for any particular office and simply prohibit campaigning within 75 feet of the polls as the law says. If Tuesday’s developments defy belief, there could be more to come.