Shift In Republican Legislative Leadership Begins To Take Shape
(Updated 3:50 p.m.) With Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney running for governor and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero undecided about a re-election bid, the General Assembly’s Republican caucuses could be in for some big changes in 2015.
McKinney has already said he won’t seek another term in the Senate during his gubernatorial campaign. Cafero has not announced whether he will run for re-election. If he doesn’t, that means the House will see its first major leadership change in nearly a decade.
Cafero was first elected in 1992 and served for six years as deputy minority leader before serving the past eight years as minority leader. He succeeded former House Minority Leader Robert Ward, who now serves as an auditor of public accounts.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, who lives in Ward’s district, said he’s interested in the leadership position but would rather see Cafero stay for one more term so that there’s some consistency and continuity.
“Larry has brought the Republican Party to a whole new level over the past eight years,” Candelora said Wednesday. “It will be a big vacuum to fill if he does leave.”
Cafero is expected to make a decision before the end of the month.
In addition to Candelora, Reps. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, and Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, have expressed interest in advancing to the position of minority leader.
Klarides, who would be the next in line for the position, said she’s been talking to people for a few months about it.
“The Republican caucus has been my second family for 16 years,” Klarides said.
If she won the support of her caucus, Klarides would be the first Republican woman to hold the minority leader position in the House.
Perillo, who was elected in a 2007 special election to fill the seat of the late-Rep. Richard Belden—one of the longest serving legislators in the House—stressed that the leader of the caucus was still Cafero.
He said he would like an opportunity to lead the “impressive group of talented individuals” in the caucus.
Sen. Minority Leader Pro Tempore Leonard Fasano of North Haven would be next in line to take over McKinney’s leadership role in the Senate, but he said Tuesday that he’s not even thinking about it at the moment.
“It’s like halfway through football season thinking about who is going to be the team captain next season,” Fasano said. “There’s plenty of time for this stuff later.”
He said he has informed his colleagues that he’s running for re-election to his state Senate seat, but beyond that he said he is focused completely on the upcoming legislative session.
Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, said McKinney and Fasano have been an “inspiration.”
Kane, who admits he has ambitions to move up in the leadership structure, said Fasano is seeking re-election and he sees no reason why he wouldn’t be the next minority leader or majority leader — depending on what happens in the 2014 election.
If Republicans take control of the Senate, then the next leader would become Senate President Pro Tempore. Democrats currently hold a 22 to 14 majority over Republicans in that chamber.
“If I could be second in command I would be honored,” Kane said Wednesday.
However, at the moment Kane said he’s focused on his role in the caucus as chair of policy and as the highest ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee.
“I will definitely wait my turn,” Kane said.