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Vote Nears On McDonald's Surprisingly Contentious Judicial Nomination

Bob Child
Then-Connecticut State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, speaks at a rally at the State Capitol in Hartford, Conn., in 2008.

Governor Dannel Malloy warned on Thursday that the independence of the state’s judiciary might be in jeopardy if his nominee to be Connecticut chief justice fails to win Senate confirmation. The State Senate is likely to vote on the nomination of Justice Andrew McDonald on Monday.

McDonald is a Democrat who is an old friend and political ally of Malloy’s. When he served in the State Senate McDonald was an unabashed liberal proponent of gay marriage and abortion rights. And as a State Supreme Court Justice he voted to repeal capital punishment in Connecticut. This made for a testy confirmation hearing when McDonald was before the Judiciary Committee last month. His nomination made it through but with an unfavorable recommendation after a 20-20 party-line vote. Malloy says this is a bad sign for the independence of the state’s judiciary because five years ago McDonald had won overwhelming legislative approval.

“I hope this is not because he is a gay man that he is being treated this way. I hope it’s not because he and I have known each other for a long period of time that he’s being treated this way. But I do know that the way he’s being treated ultimately could have a very damning impact of our legal system in Connecticut.”

The State Senate is split 18-18 between Democrats and Republicans, but the Democrats have already lost one vote. That’s because Senator Gayle Slossberg of Milford has recused herself from the confirmation vote because she previously had a legal matter before McDonald.

In the meantime, a lobbying group organized to support McDonald has reserved time to run television ads on local stations urging Senate Republicans to drop their opposition to McDonald. Other supporters have set up telephone banks for robocalls.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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