Time For Bysiewicz To Step Aside

I like Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, so it pains me to say this: It is time for her to fold her tent and go silently into the night. In the past few months she has shown a remarkable ability to pick the wrong fight, at the wrong time, and to wage it in the wrong manner.

This is a jubilee year for the state’s political class. Governor N. Jodi Rell is retiring, and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has his sights set on the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Christopher Dodd. Two prize plums await picking by politicians who have served long apprenticeships. All that a candidate needs to do is choose an office, and pursue it.

Yet the act of choosing is one that seemed to give Bysiewicz trouble. First she showed interest in the governor’s mansion. Then she set her sights on the office of the Attorney General. One could forgive a momentary fickleness as the vacancies only became apparent in the haphazard manner of chance.

Then questions arose about whether Bysiewicz had the requisite ten years’ legal experience called for to be eligible to serve as Attorney General.

Consider the recent deposition she gave as part of her law suit intended to determine once and for all whether she possesses the requisite experience to serve as the state’s Attorney General. Bysiewicz, who was graduated from law school long ago, said she’s got the experience. It sounded persuasive from a distance.

It turns out that she’s a little short on the experience side. Her forays into court put her on par with a summer associate. She has no trial experience. It’s unclear what contribution she has ever made to a legal brief. In short, she’s got a law degree and she’s paid decades worth of attorney occupational taxes, but she’s really a lawyer in name only.

She recently withstood questions in a withering deposition by a lawyer for the state’s Republican Party, matching graceless and witless answers with equally graceless and witless questions. Watching the deposition takes me back to the days of William Clinton and Paula Jones. Thge chatter is demeaning.

The law requiring legal experience to be attorney general is odd. A person occupying that office need not be a litigator to succeed. And they needn’t be a legal scholar. Criticism of Bysiewicz as a mere figurehead misses the target: Of course, she is a figure head as Secretary of State. She sets policy and vision for the department, leaving execution of these things to others. Frankly, I see no harm in permitting a person without significant legal experience to serve as attorney general.

But that’s not the law. The law requires ten year’s experience. On any charitable reading of that rule, Bysiewicz doesn’t have that. And her quibbling and caviling on the topic won’t make it so.

So this woman who once could credibly have run for governor is now increasingly looking like crabby aunt Alice at a Fourth of July picnic. We all love her and are happy she chose to attend. But if she asks one more time where the carved pumpkins are .... You get the picture.

It is time for her to abandon her campaign. If she does so quickly, she can save a little face, make peace in her family and open an opportunity for a lawyer who truly is qualified and would do a good job as attorney general.

I am referring, of course, to the potential candidacy of Ross Garber, former legal counsel to Governor John Rowland. He is poised to run, albeit as a Republican. Rumor has it he is sidelined out of deference to his sister in-law, Susan Bysiewicz. She should step aside so Ross can make a bid.

I’ve know Ross since he became a lawyer. I’ve tried a case against him. He’s been to court. He can write a brief. Why, he’s such a good candidate, his candidacy might just be enough to get me to vote Republican, a rare event.

Will Bysiewicz step aside gracefully? I hope so for her sake. She is rapidly becoming a laughing stock. And it hurts to watch that happen.

Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.


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