Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell delivered her final convention address as the state’s chief executive to fellow Republican delegates Friday night.
During her speech, which was preceded by a glowing mini-film, Rell choked up a bit and also attempted to pump-up the faithful for the November elections.
“I have a feeling it’s going to be a very good year,” Rell said. “We have the best candidates, up and down the ticket, all across the state.”
Rell has avoided endorsing anyone and yesterday did not vote. But she also said she plans to eventually hit the campaign trail with the nominees.
“I want to be out there, stand in front of grocery stores, shake hands of people as they come by and introduce them to our candidates,” she said.
Rell continues to be popular with residents, and she told delegates “it has truly been mind-boggling to serve as your Governor.”
Save for the podium, the lights were down in the hall at the Connecticut Convention Center so it was difficult to see how many people got out of their seats to applaud. But I wasn’t necessarily feeling all the love you’d think would be accorded Rell at the end of her career. The response was warm, to be sure. It just felt like it was lacking … something …
To be fair, she spoke early in the convention and delegates were still conducting business out on the floor, so there were some distractions.
But I asked a few delegates and a few colleagues, and they agreed with my assessment.
Today I was talking about the gubernatorial nominating process with state Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, who backed political outsider Oz Griebel of Simsbury to replace Rell. The topic of Rell’s speech did not come up, but I think Roraback confirmed my suspicions.
“Republicans recognize that it’s time to turn the page, and we’re going to have to turn the page at the capitol next year. With a $4 billion deficit looming, something is going to have to give,” Roraback said. “The depth of our love for Jodi Rell personally knows no bounds, but it’s no secret the budgets that became law under her watch are ticking time bombs.”
Although the video about Rell’s tenure claimed she has served as a “firewall” against reckless decisions by the Democratic-majority legislature, Republican lawmakers were upset Rell did not veto last year’s Democratic budget and frustrated she struck a deal with the majority party at the end of the 2010 legislative session earlier this month.
In contrast to Rell’s appearance, House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, a pretty passionate speaker who knows how to get a crowd going and isn’t afraid to toss out some red meat to hungry GOP delegates, recieved a rousing standing ovation at the end of his Saturday morning speech.
A few hours later while I was talking to Cafero a delegate came up to him and praised his speaking abilities. I mentioned the contrast between the response he drew and how the crowd treated the retiring Governor. I asked if he’d noticed.
“I don’t know,” Cafero said. “What the hell do I have, a (noise) meter?”