District towns: Chaplin, Mansfield
House Majority Leader
Election history: Merrill was elected in a special election in 1993, succeeding five-term Democrat Jonathan Pelto. Republicans have not mounted a serious challenge since, giving up on a liberal district that is home to UConn.
2008 general election
|Denise W. Merrill (D)
Public financing: Merrill did not seek public financing for her campaign.
Background: Merrill out-hustled two colleagues to lock up the post of House majority leader. She succeeded Christopher G. Donovan on the opening day of the legislative session in 2009, when he became speaker. Their partnership had an awkward beginning: Merrill publicly objected to Donovan’s decision to offer his predecessor, James Amann, a six-figure staff job. The offer ultimately was rescinded.
With only one session as majority leader, Merrill surprised colleagues in December 2009 by announcing she would seek the Democratic nomination for secretary of the state in 2010. As a former co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, Merrill’s decision to leave the legislature in the midst of what is expected to be a multi-year budget crisis was seen as less than a vote of confidence in the institution. Merrill says she simply is taking advantage of a chance to run for an open statewide office after 17 years in the legislature.
Merrill, who lives in Mansfield, is a lawyer and former high school teacher whose district is dominated by the University of Connecticut. Before her election, she was a consultant for 10 years to the state Department of Education.
She has three children.
Committees: Legislative Management
Education: B.A., University of Connecticut; J.D., San Francisco Law School.
2008 Financial Disclosure: Merrill reported no employment outside the legislature. She owns her home in Mansfield Center and two condominiums in the same building in Hartford, one of which generates rental income.
Merrill reported one security with a value exceeding $5,000: an ING index fund.
She filed a confidential addendum to her financial disclosure form listing any debt exceeding $10,000. She declined to disclose the filing, as allowed by law.
A note on financial disclosure: Every spring, officials are required to disclose the ownership of real estate, the source of any income exceeding $1,000 in the previous calendar year and securities worth more than $5,000. They also are required to file an addendum in which they report any debt of more than $10,000; this may by law be kept confidential.