The Republican nominee for attorney general filed suit today claiming that her Democratic opponent lacks the experience required for the post under Connecticut law.

Republican Martha Dean is raising the same issue against Democrat George Jepsen that ended the candidacy of Susan Bysiewicz in May, unexpectedly giving Jepsen an uncontested path to the Democratic nomination.

At issue is whether Jepsen, who has been a lawyer for 26 years, has 10 years of “active practice” in Connecticut, a statutory requirement to be attorney general.

A spokesman for Dean said the GOP candidate will hold a press conference Thursday to outline her legal challenge. The suit was filed today in Superior Court.

The lawsuit should enliven their joint appearance Thursday at 9 a.m. on a WNPR radio program, “Where We Live.” Jepsen issued a rebuttal before Dean commented on her own suit.

“Martha Dean says she is not a politician and is running to stop the practice of frivolous lawsuits. Frankly, I have yet to see a lawsuit more political or frivolous than this one,” Jepsen said.

In a press release this evening, Dean said she was seeking a declaratory ruling that Jepsen was ineligible, though she offered no proof. She asserted that Jepsen spent most of his time in Florida for five years until 2009.

His wife did work temporarily in Florida for 18 months, but Jepsen maintained his residence in Connecticut, commuting back and forth.

Republican State Chairman Chris Healy questioned Jepsen’s eligibility Monday after the Connecticut Supreme Court, which had issued an oral decision on Bysiewicz, followed up with its written decision.

“The state Supreme Court made it clear that it’s not enough that one has been a ‘lawyer’ in title or held a law license for 10 years,” Healy said. “To be qualified to represent the state in all matters in the courts, one must have actual meaningful court experience and more, been actually actively engaged in the litigation of matters in court as his principle means of earning a living.”

Jepsen’s campaign dismissed Healy’s claim: “To use Martha Dean’s favorite phrase of late, this charge is a red herring. Questioning George Jepsen’s eligibility to run for Attorney General is ridiculous.”

Dean said in an emailed statement today, “Since Mr. Jepsen has publicly admitted multiple times that he is ‘not a litigator,’ he should immediately provide appropriate proof to the court and to the voters of Connecticut that he meets the legal qualifications for the office of Attorney General.”

Jepsen accused Dean of “political grandstanding.”

“She is wasting the court’s time and the state’s money,” Jepsen said. “Martha says she would never take public money to advance her political campaign. Yet she is doing just that by invoking the free use of the state’s scarce judicial resources to bolster her flagging campaign,” Jepsen said.

Dean’s suit was filed by Wesley Horton, who represented Bysiewicz when she sought a declaratory ruling about her eligibility to be attorney general.

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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