Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell took over for John Rowland on July 1. Rell, Rowland's second-in-command, will serve out the 2 years left in Rowland's term. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin Sullivan, a Democrat, became lieutenant governor.
Rowland announced his decision to resign in June, amid a months-long cascade of graft allegations, a federal investigation and a rapidly gathering drive to impeach him for accepting gifts from friends and businessmen.
Rowland, in his third-term, suffered a major setback when the state's Supreme Court ruled he had to testify before a state House committee, which was just days away from deciding whether to recommend his impeachment.
The decision brought to an end to what was once considered a remarkable political career, which began with Rowland's election to the state House at 23. He quickly became the boy wonder of Connecticut politics, using his charm to get elected to Congress at 27 and become governor at 37. Rowland is a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was once rumored to be under consideration for positions in the Bush administration.
Rell was the first Republican woman to serve as Connecticut's lieutenant governor, and she established a reputation as one of the more active holders of the office. She is the state's second female governor; Gov. Ella T. Grasso, a Democrat, served from 1975 until she resigned in 1980, just weeks before she died of cancer.
Democratic candidates for Congress are hoping that a strong showing by John Kerry and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd at the top of their election ticket this year will help them knock off strong GOP incumbents in the 2nd and 4th districts.
Democrats say this November may be their best opportunity in years to gain U.S. House seats in the state.
Incumbent GOP Reps. Christopher Shays, who is seeking a 10th term, faces a tough challenge from two-term Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell for the 4th District in Fairfield County.
GOP Rep. Rob Simmons, who represents the 2nd District in eastern Connecticut and is seeking his third term, will face Democrat Jim Sullivan of Norwich.
Robert Marconi, an assistant state attorney general, will run for the Fifth District against U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, the incumbent Republican.
Dodd, a popular incumbent who is seeking his fifth term, won his last election with 65 percent of the vote. He is being opposed this year by Darien businessman Jack Orchulli, a political newcomer.
Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman tried to win his party's nomination for president but abandoned that on Feb. 3, 2004, after a string of disappointing defeats.
In 2002, Rowland beat Democrat Bill Curry for a third term, but came back to a Democrat-controlled legislature and an all-Democrat underticket. Democrats swept attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and comptroller.
In the House, three-term Democrat Jim Maloney was a loser in a reapportionment-driven round of musical chairs; all of the other incumbents returned.