Cafero, Lawrence F. Jr.


House Minority Leader

District town: Norwalk

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Election history: Cafero was elected in 1992 and hasn’t had to break a sweat in eight re-election campaigns, with the possible exception of 2006, when a young Democratic law student, Lex Paulson, came within 688 votes. More typical was 2008. Democrats skipped the race, and Cafero won by 5,044 votes over a union leader running on the Working Families Party line.

2008 general election

Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R) 6,738 80 percent
A. Brian Petronella (WF) 1,694 20 percent

Public financing: Cafero received $15,000 in public financing for his campaign under the Citizens’ Election Program in 2008. He returned an $8,551.15 surplus to the state.

Background: Cafero is credited with sharpening the Republican message since becoming House minority leader in 2007, but he has not been rewarded at the polls. The minority in the 151-seat House shrank from 44 to 37 after the 2008 election, losses that Cafero blamed on the GOP’s national image and Barack Obama’s coattails. With his Senate counterpart, John McKinney of Fairfield, Cafero has downplayed social wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage, trying to brand the GOP as the party of “fiscal responsibility” and “common sense.”

Cafero has been unafraid to criticize the Republican governor, M. Jodi Rell, when he’s thought her too accommodating to majority Democrats. In 2007, after Cafero openly pressured Rell to give up on her proposed income-tax hike, he was accorded louder applause than the governor at the GOP’s annual fundraiser. In 2009, Cafero accused Rell of surrender for accepting a Democratic budget at the end of a long standoff. He compared her to Roberto Duran, the fighter who famously capitulated by saying, “No mas, no mas.”

Cafero created an exploratory committee to weigh a run for governor, but he announced in December that he would seek re-election to the House in 2010 and another term as Republican leader in 2011.

He is married and the father of three.

Committees: Legislative Management (ranking member)

Education: B.A., University of Connecticut; J.D., Western New England College Law School

Occupation: Lawyer, Brown Rudnick

2008 Financial Disclosure: Cafero reported outside income from Brown Rudnick, where he is a partner. (Cafero says he has no financial interest in the firm’s lobbying subsidiary, which represents clients in Washington and in several state capitals, including Connecticut’s. In 2008, Brown Rudnick’s lobbying fees in Connecticut topped $1 million.) His wife, Barbara E. Cafero, is employed by Xerox. They own a home and a second property in Norwalk.

They own stock in three companies: Bank of America, Xerox and Consolidated Edison.

He filed a confidential addendum listing any debts exceeding $10,000. He declined to release the addendum, as is his choice under the 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.