2005 has been a very full year in the Nutmeg State. Let's take a quick look back at the major political events of the past year:
The year began on a somber note. Gov. Rell, who had been governor for less than six months, had been diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2004, and underwent a mastectomy just before the New Year. Fears that Rell would suffer the same fate as her predecessor, Ella Grasso, were soon put to rest as the governor made a fast recovery.
Rell was well enough to deliver her first State of the State address, which focused on the smooth transfer of power following John Rowland's resignation. She would later propose what would be the signature piece of legislation for the year: a comprehensive campaign finance reform package.
Serial killer Michael Ross was slated to be executed in late January, but a stay of execution was granted as the death penalty was re-evaluated. The Ross saga would wear on for months before he was finally executed.
The federal investigation of Sen. Ernest Newton was made public.
Rell submitted her first state budget to the General Assembly. Among the highlights were an increase in train fare on Metro North to be spent on improvements to the New Haven Line, an increase in cigarette an alcohol taxes and an increase in the gas tax for other transportation improvements.
Democrats called (once again) for the "Millionaire's Tax" to be implemented. Kevin Sullivan criticized the governor's plans as stingy. Several other Democrats followed suit.
Democrat Christine Abercrombie won a special election to fill a vacant House seat in Meriden and Berlin.
Rell was criticized for missing a meeting of the Governor's Association, which included the possibility of meeting President Bush. This would be a theme for Rell in days to come: she has often shunned meetings with national figures and other Republicans.
John Orman of Trumbull, a professor at Fairfield University, announced that he would primary Joe Lieberman. He dropped out of the race later in 2005.
John Rowland's sentencing hearing approached while Rowland blamed everybody else for his troubles.
The big news of the month was the legislature's decision to uphold the death penalty. The debate over the proposed repeal inevitably turned to the horrible deeds of Michael Ross, who was scheduled to be executed May 11th.
On April 5th, the AP reported that the state would be filing a lawsuit arguing that the No Child Left Behind act of 2002 was illegal.
Rep. Shays admonished Tom DeLay and urged him to step down on April 10th.
On April 11th, Paul Vance of Waterbury announced his candidacy for the 5th District congressional seat currently occupied by Nancy Johnson. Chris Murphy entered not long after that.
However, the most historic event of April took place on the 20th, when Gov. Rell signed civil unions into law. It was the first time that any state legislature had passed this kind of legislation without being compelled by the courts.
Municpial elections were held in several Connecticut towns.
The minimum wage was slightly increased.
The Newton investigation plowed onward towards its inevitable conclusion.
Dan Malloy renewed his candidacy for governor following a long, voluntary haitus, during which he was under investigation for corruption. He was exonerated of all charges.
Michael Ross was finally put to death on Friday, May 13th, but the news of the Groton Sub Base's presence on the base closure list overshadowed his execution. Work began immediately to convince the BRAC committee to reverse the DoD's decision.
Rell surprised people by proposing full public financing of state elections just days before the end of the legislative session. However, the House and Senate couldn't agree on a final bill, and campaign finance reform stalled.
Rell also signed into law a bill funding stem cell research in Connecticut.
A compromise was reached on the budget, which implemented, among other things, a version of the "millionaire's tax." Republicans were shut out of budget negotiations, much to their dismay.
The Supreme Court decided, in the landmark Kelo v. New London case, that New London could take private land for private development through eminent domain. Almost everyone was horrified by the decision.
The General Assembly passed a transportation bill in special session, but didn't address campaign finance reform.
John DeStefano handily outraised his rivals, Dan Malloy and Susan Bysiewicz, and released a campaign DVD that caused some controversy around here.
Diane Farrell announced that she would run against Shays again in 2006.
The AP reported that Ernest Newton was offered a bribe by the head of a job training agency.
Rell released an Annual Report that looked suspiciously like a campaign brochure, drawing fire from Democrats.
Connecticut cheered on August 24th, when BRAC decided to keep the sub base open.
Connecticut residents pulled together to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Susan Bysiewicz dropped out of the governor's race, citing lackluster fundraising numbers. In response, all of the candidates hoping to suceed her as Secretary of the State jumped out of that race.
Primaries were held across Connecticut. The big news of the night was Waterbury mayor Michael Jarjura's stunning loss to Karen Mulcahy. Jarjura pledged to run as a write-in candidate.
Sen. Ernest Newton resigned his seat on September 15th. He would later plead guilty to three felony charges.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano's office caused a flap over immigration by releasing a plan that would give ID cards to illegal immigrants. The plan was later rescinded.
Both Jodi Rell and Richard Blumenthal did what everyone was expecting them to do: She got in while he stayed out.
A special session of the legislature convened in October, and quickly passed heating assistance and contracting reform. The contracting reform bill would later be vetoed by the governor.
Municipal elections were held in November. The biggest story of the night was again in Waterbury, where Michael Jarjura won re-election as a write-in candidate.
Upsets also happened in Torrington, Norwalk and Middletown.
Ed Gomes was elected to replace Ernest Newton in Bridgeport.
In another historic first, a comprehensive campaign finance reform package, which included public financing for all state elections starting in 2007, passed and was signed. This was the first time such a system had been enacted by a state legislature instead of a referendum.
Lowell Weicker was rumored to be interested in running against Lieberman, a rumor he later (sort of) confirmed. Lieberman, an outspoken supporter of the administration's war policies, was rumored to be headed for the Pentagon.
Lisa Moody, Rell's chief of staff, found herself in hot water following the revelation of possible violations of state ethics laws. The matter is currently under investigation, and Moody has been suspended for two weeks.
Whew. That's the 2005 political year in review for Connecticut! It has absolutely been an action-packed year. Feel free to add in important stories you think should be on this list.