Connecticut Politics and Government

Connecticut State Politics

The ‘Constitution State’, this is the name by which Connecticut is popularly known. The name certainly finds its origin in the Fundamental Orders of 1638-39. This was the framework of the first formal government which was penned down by a representative body in Connecticut. The Connecticut constitutional history has however seen itself operating under four different documents throughout its whole course. King Charles II of England granted the governmental authority to Connecticut in the charter of 1662. These two documents were the basic ground for the state’s government. However, during that period, there were no separate branches of the government. The Generally Assembly held the supreme authority. Until 1818, the functioning of the Government went on like that. The current state constitution was adopted only in 1965. Though it modeled itself on its 1818 predecessor, there were a number of significant modifications that were incorporated as well.

Connecticut Politics

Connecticut strangely leans towards a Democratic government, but a high percentage of voters are not registered with any major party. As of the data of 2004, only 33.7% were registered with the Democratic Party and 22.0% were registered Republican. With only 0.2% registered with a minor party, 44% remain unaffiliated with any.

Connecticut Government

The three branches of the government of Connecticut are:

  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Judicial

Let’s delve deeper into their operation to have a clearer picture of the working of the government of Connecticut.

Connecticut Executive Branch

The executive branch is headed by the Governor of the state of Connecticut. The Governor used to preside over the General assembly from 1639 to 1818, the year in which the constitution was adopted. Connecticut has the history of being the first state in USA to elect a woman as the governor. That was back in 1974, when Ella Grasso was elected the governor of the state.

However, there are six official positions in the state government; they are:

The Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the Controller, and the Attorney General.

  • The Governor, according to the constitution is regarded as "the supreme executive power of the state," "Captain General of the militia," and is responsible for from time to time, give to the General Assembly information... and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall deem expedient," he "shall have the power to grant reprieves after conviction, and to name commissions."

  • The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate by virtue of his office; he is also expected to assume the role of the Governor in the case of "death, resignation, refusal to serve or removal from office.

  • The Secretary acts as the commissioner of elections (state and local). He administers some aspects of the Federal elections as well.

  • The Treasurer is responsible to receive all the money that belongs to the state, and disburse the same as directed by law.

  • The Controller does "preserve the mode of keeping and rendering all public accounts."

  • The Attorney General holds the power of jurisdiction over all the non-criminal legal matters of the state.

The executive departments of the state are:

Administrative Services, Agriculture, Banking, Children and Families, Consumer Protection, Correction, Economic and Community Development, Developmental Services, Education, Environmental Protection, Higher Education, Information Technology, Insurance, Labor, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Military, Motor Vehicles, Public Health, Public Safety, Public Utility Control, Public Works, Revenue Services, Social Services, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs. In addition to these departments, there are other independent bureaus, offices and commissions.

Connecticut Legislature Branch

  • The General Assembly, that is, the Legislature comprises of thirty-six members in the Senate. The House of Representatives has 151 members. Members of both the General assembly and the House of Representatives are elected to two-year terms. 

  • The majority party in both the Senate and the House organizes the General Assembly. The Lieutenant Governor presides over the Senate while the Speaker presides over the House of Representatives.

  • When the legislation is put forward to the General Assembly, it is to one or more of the eighteen standing committees. After that, a public hearing is held. It has to be approved by both the chambers, and the Governor has to sign it.

  •  If he fails to do so within five days of the session, or within the fifteen days when it is being adjourned, the legislation automatically becomes a law. However, the Legislation that has been vetoed by the governor can as well be overridden if two-thirds of the members of each chamber vote for it.

Connecticut Judicial Branch

  • The judicial system of Connecticut has experienced a major makeover particularly the last decade.

  • However, the Municipal courts were known to be established in 1961, while the circuit courts came into being in 1974; the court of common pleas was established in 1978 while  the juvenile court in 1978.

  • The Supreme Court, Superior Court and Probate Courts make up the court system of Connecticut.

  • The highest court of the judicial system is the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of Connecticut heads the Supreme Court.

List of Governors of Connecticut

S.No Governor Term Start Term End Party Lt. Governor
Terms
16
Jonathan Trumbull October 1, 1769 May 13, 1784 No party Matthew Griswold 14 1⁄2
17 Matthew Griswold May 13, 1784 May 11, 1786 Federalist Samuel Huntington 2
18 Samuel Huntington May 11, 1786 January 5, 1796 Federalist Oliver Wolcott 9 1⁄2
19 Oliver Wolcott January 5, 1796 December 1, 1797 Federalist Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. 1⁄2+1⁄2
20 Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. December 1, 1797 August 7, 1809 Federalist John Treadwell 10 1⁄2+1⁄2
21 John Treadwell August 7, 1809 May 9, 1811 Federalist Roger Griswold 1 1⁄2
22 Roger Griswold May 9, 1811 October 25, 1812 Federalist John Cotton Smith 1⁄2
23 John Cotton Smith October 25, 1812 May 8, 1817 Federalist Chauncey Goodrich 4 1⁄2
24 Oliver Wolcott, Jr. May 8, 1817 May 2, 1827 Toleration
Republican
Jonathan Ingersoll 10
David Plant
25 Gideon Tomlinson May 2, 1827 March 2, 1831 Democratic-
Republican
John Samuel Peters 3 1⁄2
26 John Samuel Peters March 2, 1831 May 1, 1833 National
Republican
Thaddeus Betts 2 1⁄2
27 Henry W. Edwards May 1, 1833 May 7, 1834 Democratic Ebenezer Stoddard 1
28 Samuel A. Foot May 7, 1834 May 6, 1835 Whig Thaddeus Betts 1
29 Henry W. Edwards May 6, 1835 May 2, 1838 Democratic Ebenezer Stoddard 3
30 William W. Ellsworth May 2, 1838 May 4, 1842 Whig Charles Hawley 4
31 Chauncey Fitch Cleveland May 4, 1842 May 1, 1844 Democratic William S. Holabird 2
32 Roger Sherman Baldwin May 1, 1844 May 6, 1846 Whig Reuben Booth 2
33 Isaac Toucey May 6, 1846 May 5, 1847 Democratic Noyes Billings 1
34 Clark Bissell May 5, 1847 May 2, 1849 Whig Charles J. McCurdy 2
35 Joseph Trumbull May 2, 1849 May 4, 1850 Whig Thomas Backus 1
36 Thomas H. Seymour May 4, 1850 October 13, 1853 Democratic Charles H. Pond 3 1⁄2
Green Kendrick
Charles H. Pond
37 Charles H. Pond October 13, 1853 May 3, 1854 Democratic   1⁄2
38 Henry Dutton May 3, 1854 May 2, 1855 Whig Alexander H. Holley 1
39 William T. Minor May 2, 1855 May 6, 1857 American William Field 2
Albert Day
40 Alexander H. Holley May 6, 1857 May 5, 1858 Republican Alfred A. Burnham 1
41 William A. Buckingham May 5, 1858 May 2, 1866 Republican Julius Catlin 8
Benjamin Douglas
Roger Averill
42 Joseph R. Hawley May 2, 1866 May 1, 1867 Republican Oliver Winchester 1
43 James E. English May 1, 1867 May 5, 1869 Democratic Ephraim H. Hyde 2
44 Marshall Jewell May 5, 1869 May 4, 1870 Republican Francis Wayland 1
45 James E. English May 4, 1870 May 16, 1871 Democratic Julius Hotchkiss 1
46 Marshall Jewell May 16, 1871 May 7, 1873 Republican Morris Tyler 2
47 Charles R. Ingersoll May 7, 1873 January 3, 1877 Democratic George G. Sill 3
48 Richard D. Hubbard January 3, 1877 January 9, 1879 Democratic Francis Loomis 1
49 Charles B. Andrews January 9, 1879 January 5, 1881 Republican David Gallup 1
50 Hobart B. Bigelow January 5, 1881 January 3, 1883 Republican William H. Bulkeley 1
51 Thomas M. Waller January 3, 1883 January 8, 1885 Democratic George G. Sumner 1
52 Henry B. Harrison January 8, 1885 January 7, 1887 Republican Lorrin A. Cooke 1
53 Phineas C. Lounsbury January 7, 1887 January 10, 1889 Republican James L. Howard 1
54 Morgan G. Bulkeley January 10, 1889 January 4, 1893 Republican Samuel E. Merwin 2
55 Luzon B. Morris January 4, 1893 January 9, 1895 Democratic Ernest Cady 1
56 Owen Vincent Coffin January 9, 1895 January 6, 1897 Republican Lorrin A. Cooke 1
57 Lorrin A. Cooke January 6, 1897 January 4, 1899 Republican James D. Dewell 1
58 George E. Lounsbury January 4, 1899 January 9, 1901 Republican Lyman A. Mills 1
59 George P. McLean January 9, 1901 January 7, 1903 Republican Edwin O. Keeler 1
60 Abiram Chamberlain January 7, 1903 January 4, 1905 Republican Henry Roberts 1
61 Henry Roberts January 4, 1905 January 9, 1907 Republican Rollin S. Woodruff 1
62 Rollin S. Woodruff January 9, 1907 January 6, 1909 Republican Everett J. Lake 1
63 George L. Lilley January 6, 1909 April 21, 1909 Republican Frank B. Weeks 1⁄2
64 Frank B. Weeks April 21, 1909 January 4, 1911 Republican   1⁄2
65 Simeon E. Baldwin January 4, 1911 January 6, 1915 Democratic Dennis A. Blakeslee 2
Lyman T. Tingier
66 Marcus H. Holcomb January 6, 1915 January 5, 1921 Republican Clifford B. Wilson 3
67 Everett J. Lake January 5, 1921 January 3, 1923 Republican Charles A. Templeton 1
68 Charles A. Templeton January 3, 1923 January 7, 1925 Republican Hiram Bingham III 1
69 Hiram Bingham III January 7, 1925 January 8, 1925 Republican John H. Trumbull 1⁄2
70 John H. Trumbull January 8, 1925 January 7, 1931 Republican J. Edwin Brainard 2 1⁄2
Ernest E. Rogers
71 Wilbur Lucius Cross January 7, 1931 January 4, 1939 Democratic Samuel R. Spencer 4
Roy C. Wilcox
T. Frank Hayes
72 Raymond E. Baldwin January 4, 1939 January 8, 1941 Republican James L. McConaughy 1
73 Robert A. Hurley January 8, 1941 January 6, 1943 Democratic Odell Shepard 1
74 Raymond E. Baldwin January 6, 1943 December 27, 1946 Republican William L. Hadden 1 1⁄2
Charles W. Snow
75 Charles W. Snow December 27, 1946 January 8, 1947 Democratic   1⁄2
76 James L. McConaughy January 8, 1947 March 7, 1948 Republican James C. Shannon 1⁄2
77 James C. Shannon March 7, 1948 January 5, 1949 Republican Robert E. Parsons 1⁄2
78 Chester Bowles January 5, 1949 January 3, 1951 Democratic William T. Carroll 1
79 John Davis Lodge January 3, 1951 January 5, 1955 Republican Edward N. Allen 1
80 Abraham A. Ribicoff January 5, 1955 January 21, 1961 Democratic Charles W. Jewett 1 1⁄2
John N. Dempsey
81 John N. Dempsey January 21, 1961 January 6, 1971 Democratic Anthony J. Armentan 2 1⁄2
Samuel J. Tedesco
Fred J. Doocy
Attilio R. Frassinelli
82 Thomas J. Meskill January 6, 1971 January 8, 1975 Republican T. Clark Hull 1
Peter L. Cashman
83 Ella T. Grasso January 8, 1975 December 31, 1980 Democratic Robert K. Killian 1 1⁄2
William A. O'Neill
84 William A. O'Neill December 31, 1980 January 9, 1991 Democratic Joseph J. Fauliso
2 1⁄2
85 Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. January 9, 1991 January 4, 1995 A Connecticut Party Eunice Groark 1
86 John G. Rowland January 4, 1995 July 1, 2004 Republican M. Jodi Rell 2 1⁄2
87 M. Jodi Rell July 1, 2004 Incumbent Republican Kevin Sullivan
1 1⁄2
Michael Fedele

Other High Offices Held

Governor Gubernatorial Term U.S. House U.S. Senate Other Offices Held
Samuel Huntington 1786–1796 Continental Delegate (including President of the Continental Congress)
Oliver Wolcott 1796–1797 Continental Delegate
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. 1797–1809 H S Speaker of the House
John Treadwell 1809–1811 Continental Delegate
Roger Griswold 1811–1812 H  
John Cotton Smith 1812–1817 H  
Oliver Wolcott, Jr. 1817–1827 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Gideon Tomlinson 1827–1831 H S*  
Henry W. Edwards 1833–1834, 1835–1838 H S  
Samuel A. Foot 1834–1835 H† S  
William W. Ellsworth 1838–1842 H  
Chauncey Fitch Cleveland 1842–1843 H  
Roger Sherman Baldwin 1844–1846 S  
Isaac Toucey 1846–1847 H S U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Secretary of the Navy
Joseph Trumbull 1849–1850 H  
Thomas Hart Seymour 1850–1853 H Minister to Russia*
William A. Buckingham 1858–1866 S  
Joseph R. Hawley 1866–1867 H S  
James E. English 1867–1869, 1870–1871 H S  
Marshall Jewell 1869–1870, 1871–1873 Minister to Russia, U.S. Postmaster General
Richard D. Hubbard 1878–1879 H  
Morgan G. Bulkeley 1889–1893 S  
George P. McLean 1901–1903 S  
George L. Lilley 1909 H  
Hiram Bingham III 1925 S  
Raymond E. Baldwin 1939–1941, 1943–1946 S*  
Chester Bowles 1949–1951 H Ambassador to India, Ambassador to Nepal
John Davis Lodge 1951–1955 H Ambassador to Argentina, Ambassador to Spain, Ambassador to Switzerland
Abraham A. Ribicoff 1955–1961 H S U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare*
Thomas J. Meskill 1971–1975 H Second Circuit Court Judge
Ella T. Grasso 1975–1980 H  
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. 1991–1995 H S  
John G. Rowland 1995–2004 H  

Living Former Governors

Governor Term of Office Date of Birth
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. 1991–1995 May 16, 1931 (1931-05-16) (age 79)
John G. Rowland 1995–2004 May 24, 1957 (1957-05-24) (age 53)

List of United States Senators From Connecticut

S.No Senator Took Office Left Office Party Residence   Congress Term
1 Oliver Ellsworth March 4, 1789 March 8, 1796 Pro-Administration Hartford   1 1
2 2
3
4
Vacant March 8, 1796 December 6, 1796
2 James Hillhouse December 6, 1796 June 10, 1810 Federalist New Haven  
5 3
6
7
8 4
9
10
11 5
Vacant June 10, 1810 December 4, 1810
3 Samuel W. Dana December 4, 1810 March 4, 1821 Federalist Middletown  
12
13
14 6
15
16
4 Elijah Boardman March 4, 1821 August 18, 1823 Democratic-Republican Litchfield   17 7
18
Vacant August 18, 1823 October 8, 1823
5 Henry W. Edwards October 8, 1823 March 4, 1827 Jacksonian New Haven  
19
6 Samuel A. Foot March 4, 1827 March 4, 1833 Adams,
later Anti-Jacksonian
Cheshire   20 8
21
22
7 Nathan Smith March 4, 1833 December 6, 1835 Whig New Haven   23 9
24
Vacant December 6, 1835 December 21, 1835
8 John Milton Niles December 21, 1835 March 4, 1839 Jacksonian Hartford  
25
9 Thaddeus Betts March 4, 1839 April 7, 1840 Whig Norwalk   26 10
Vacant April 7, 1840 May 4, 1840
10 Jabez W. Huntington May 4, 1840 November 1, 1847 Whig Norwich  
27
28
29 11
30
Vacant November 1, 1847 November 11, 1847
11 Roger Sherman Baldwin November 11, 1847 March 4, 1851 Whig New Haven  
31
Vacant March 4, 1851 May 12, 1851  
32

12
12 Isaac Toucey May 12, 1851 March 4, 1857 Democratic Hartford  
33
34
13 James Dixon March 4, 1857 March 4, 1869 Republican Hartford   35 13
36
37
38 14
39
40
14 William Alfred Buckingham March 4, 1869 February 5, 1875 Republican Norwich   41 15
42
43
15 William W. Eaton February 5, 1875 March 4, 1881 Democratic Hartford  
44 16
45
46
16 Joseph Roswell Hawley March 4, 1881 March 4, 1905 Republican Hartford   47 17
48
49
50 18
51
52
53 19
54
55
56 20
57
58
17 Morgan G. Bulkeley March 4, 1905 March 4, 1911 Republican Hartford   59 21
60
61
18 George P. McLean March 4, 1911 March 4, 1929 Republican Simsbury   62 22
63
64
65 23
66
67
68 24
69
70
19 Frederic C. Walcott March 4, 1929 January 3, 1935 Republican Norfolk   71 25
72
73
20 Francis T. Maloney January 3, 1935 January 16, 1945 Democratic Meriden   74 26
75
76
77 27
78
79
Vacant January 16, 1945 February 15, 1945  
21 Thomas C. Hart February 15, 1945 November 5, 1946 Republican Sharon  
Vacant November 5, 1946 December 27, 1946  
22 Raymond E. Baldwin December 27, 1946 December 16, 1949 Republican Stratford  
80 28
81
23 William Benton December 17, 1949 January 3, 1953 Democratic Southport  
82
24 William A. Purtell January 3, 1953 January 3, 1959 Republican West Hartford   83 29
84
85
25 Thomas J. Dodd January 3, 1959 January 3, 1971 Democratic West Hartford   86 30
87
88
89 31
90
91
26 Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. January 3, 1971 January 3, 1989 Republican Greenwich   92 32
93
 
95 33
96
97
98 34
99
100
27 Joseph Lieberman January 3, 1989 Incumbent Democratic New Haven   101 35
102
103
104 36
105
106
107 37
108
109
Independent Democratic 110 38
111

Class 3

S.No. Senator Took Office Left Office Party Congress Term
1 William Samuel Johnson March 4, 1789 March 4, 1791 Pro-Administration 1 1
Vacant March 4, 1791 June 13, 1791  

2

2 Roger Sherman June 13, 1791 July 23, 1793 Pro-Administration
3
Vacant July 23, 1793 December 2, 1793  
3 Stephen Mix Mitchell December 2, 1793 March 4, 1795 Pro-Administration
4 Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. March 4, 1795 June 10, 1796 Federalist 4 2
Vacant June 10, 1796 October 13, 1796  
5 Uriah Tracy October 13, 1796 July 19, 1807 Federalist
5
6
7 3
8
9
10 4
Vacant July 19, 1807 October 25, 1807  
6 Chauncey Goodrich October 25, 1807 May 13, 1813 Federalist
11
12
13 5
7 David Daggett May 13, 1813 March 4, 1819 Federalist
14
15
8 James Lanman March 4, 1819 March 4, 1825 Democratic- republican 16 6
17
18
Vacant March 4, 1825 May 4, 1825  
19

7
9 Calvin Willey May 4, 1825 March 4, 1831 National Republican
20
21
10 Gideon Tomlinson March 4, 1831 March 4, 1837 National Republican 22 8
23
24
11 Perry Smith March 4, 1837 March 4, 1843 Democratic 25 9
26
27
12 John Milton Niles March 4, 1843 March 4, 1849 Democratic 28 10
29
30
13 Truman Smith March 4, 1849 May 24, 1854 Whig 31 11
32
33
14 Francis Gillette May 24, 1854 March 4, 1855 Free Soil
15 Lafayette S. Foster March 4, 1855 March 4, 1867 Republican 34 12
35
36
37 13
38
39
16 Orris S. Ferry March 4, 1867 November 21, 1875 Republican 40 14
41
42
43 15
44
Vacant November 21, 1875 November 27, 1875  
17 James E. English November 27, 1875 May 17, 1876 Democratic
18 William Henry Barnum May 18, 1876 March 4, 1879 Democratic
45
19 Orville H. Platt March 4, 1879 April 21, 1905 Republican 46 16
47
48
49 17
50
51
52 18
53
54
55 19
56
57
58 20
Vacant April 21, 1905 May 10, 1905  
20 Frank B. Brandegee May 10, 1905 October 14, 1924 Republican
59
60
61 21
62
63
64 22
65
66
67 23

68

Vacant October 14, 1924 December 15, 1924  
21 Hiram Bingham III December 15, 1924 March 4, 1933 Republican
69
70 24
71
72
22 Augustine Lonergan March 4, 1933 January 3, 1939 Democratic 73 25
74
75
23 John A. Danaher January 3, 1939 January 3, 1945 Republican 76 26
77
78
24 Brien McMahon January 3, 1945 July 28, 1952 Democratic 79 27
80
81
82 28
Vacant July 28, 1952 August 29, 1952  
25 William A. Purtell August 29, 1952 November 4, 1952 Republican
26 Prescott Bush November 4, 1952 January 3, 1963 Republican
83
84
85 29
86
87
27 Abraham A. Ribicoff January 3, 1963 January 3, 1981 Democratic 88 30
89
90
91 31
92
93
94 32
95
96
28 Chris Dodd January 3, 1981 Incumbent Democratic 97 33
98
99
100 34
101
102
103 35
104
105
106 36
107
108
109 37
110
111