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Len Fasano, Longtime Conn. Senate Leader, Not Seeking Re-Election

Jessica Hill
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano, R-North Haven, holds a news conference at the State Capitol in Hartford in 2017.

Earlier this week Connecticut Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano informed supporters and members of his caucus that he would not seek re-election. It brings to end an 18-year career in the Senate for Fasano, who was first elected to the chamber in 2002 and became Senate minority leader in 2014.

WSHU’s senior political reporter Ebong Udoma spoke with the longtime senator after he announced his decision. Ebong then spoke with Morning Edition host Tom Kuser about why Fasano chose to step down. Below is a transcript of their conversation.

TOM: Fasano is a 61-year-old lawyer from North Haven. Why has he decided to give up his Senate seat?

EBONG: Tom, Fasano told me he had been thinking of it for a while. He says he loves the Senate. But he says leading the minority is a lot more challenging than running the majority because they control the agenda. Here’s how he described it to me.

“As a majority, they know which bills are going to go forward and which bills are not going to go forward…and I’ve been there 18 years.”

TOM: Fasano says the last three or four years have been the most difficult. But he did have a power sharing arrangement with the Democrats for two years, did he not?

EBONG: Yes, he did. It came after Republicans and Democrats won an equal number of seats in the chamber in the 2016 election. So they shared power in the 2017-2018 session.

TOM: Ebong, didn’t that rare power sharing arrangement also lead to the state’s first bipartisan budget after many years of budget deficits?

EBONG: Yes, it did. And Fasano is very proud of that. If you remember the budget was due in June 2017, but lawmakers didn’t get a deal until October that year.

“I am very proud of the bipartisan budget. There was a belief that we were going to walk out on that and leave it to the Democrats to do. But we believe that it was important that we do something positive for the state of Connecticut.”

EBONG: You know, Tom, the mandates created in that budget helped build up the state’s rainy day fund. And that’s helping provide a cushion for Connecticut to deal with the current economic crisis unfolding because of COVID-19.

TOM: That’s quite an achievement. So why is Fasano leaving now?

EBONG: Well I think the problem is that Fasano would probably like to lead the majority in the Senate, and that seems very unlikely anytime soon. The last time that the GOP controlled the Senate was a long time ago and just for two years in the 1995-‘96 session. They came close when under Fasano’s leadership. They tied the chamber in 2016. But that’s not likely again this year.

TOM:  But didn’t Fasano tell you he loves the Capitol?

EBONG: He says leaving is bittersweet for him.

“What the Capitol has done to change me…it’s just a tremendous place.”

TOM: Ebong, so what’s next for Fasano?

EBONG: Fasano wants to continue to serve the state, just not in elective office. Here’s what he said.

“I don’t know if that opportunity will present itself…we’ll see what the future holds.”

TOM: So we may see Fasano in an appointed public job in the near future?

EBONG: That’s a possibility.

TOM: Thanks, Ebong.

EBONG: Thanks, Tom.

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.