Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz is the front runner among candidates seeking the soon-to-be-vacated office of Attorney General. I am not at all surprised. She has been a responsive member of the state House of Representatives and Secretary of the State. Claims that she has not been involved in the practice of law long enough to qualify simply don't make a lot of sense.
Bysiewicz threw her hat in the ring a little more than a week ago. Almost immediately, questions arose about whether she was too green for the job. A state statute requires that the Attorney General have at least ten year's active practice of law in the state.
As it turns out, Ms. Bysiewicz worked as an attorney in private practice for less than ten years. She was then elected a representative and moved on up to Secretary of the State.
Whether the state statute placing limits on who may serve as Attorney General is constitutional or not is a side issue. No matter how this the statute is construed, Bysiewicz is qualified.
One needed chase ambulances, trundle off to criminal court, prepare corporate forms, or review documents in the dead of night to be involved in the practice of law. I suspect that as a lawmaker Bysiewicz relied upon and honed her skill as a lawyer; there is little doubt that as Secretary of the State, she interpreted and enforced laws. She's been a member of the bar for 20 years. And throughout that period, she has been engaged in interpreting, making and enforcing laws. It is not as though she's been selling pencils on a street corner somewhere.
I am not endorsing her for the position of Attorney General, mind you. Although if the state lives up to its image of the Land of Steady Habits, she's be a shoo-in. In some respects, she is the female doppelganger of the current occupant of the office, Richard Blumenthal, who has announced he is resigning to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Christopher Dodd. Bysiewicz is photogenic, she has an eye for publicity, and she has the ability to tirelessly work the cocktail circuits of the state from Stamford to, well, Willimantic. From time to time, I get an unsolicited note in the mail congratulating me on one thing or another. Just how she spots my doings is an impressive piece of public relations.
Bysiewicz's qualifications are really a non-issue. Ever cautious, she has sought an opinion from Blumenthal on whether she meets the statutory requirements. Watching these two eye one another across the dance floor is exquisite political theater. These are two experienced polls who calculate every grimace.
I say let the voters decide whether she is qualified or not. Should she win the election, and someone truly believes that she is not qualified, bring the issue to a court. At least that would give us the chance to take aim at a silly law.