Her formal farewell speech will be delivered Wednesday on the floor of the Senate, but Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, told her colleagues today in the privacy of the Democratic caucus room she will not seek another term. She confirmed her plans in an interview with The Mirror.

Her plans were first reported earlier tonight by The Day.

Prague, 86, the oldest member of the General Assembly, is leaving after a busy year, playing a visible role in the abolition of the death penalty for future crimes and taking the lead on a bill that gives collective bargaining rights to certain home-care workers and daycare providers.

“I emotionally left here that night,” Prague told The Mirror, referring to the collective bargaining bill. “All those workers were celebrating, cheering in the halls. It doesn’t get better than that.”

As the co-chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, she led the six-hour debate. She stood exhausted that night, waiting for her ride by the main door to the Capitol, saying it was one of her proudest moments in the General Assembly.

Prague said she was most bothered by the thought that her co-chairman, Rep. Zeke Zalaski, D-Southington, also was leaving the legislature, leaving the labor committee without leadership. Zalaski said he has not finalized any decision about re-election.

Prague had a minor stroke on Christmas Day, but she bounced back. Her only visible concession was that she stopped driving to the Capitol from her home in eastern Connecticut, and she has missed some late night votes.

Prague was absent when the Senate finished a debate on education reform at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.

But her doctor bluntly warned her that the stress of working at the Capitol could be dangerous.

“My doctor looked me square in the face and said, ‘The second time, you might not be so lucky,’ ” she said. “I don’t want to go to my grandson’s college graduation in a wheelchair.”

So, she’ll leave, but not without offering a blunt assessment of those who might follow.

Rep. Tom Reynolds, D-Ledyard, is expected to seek the Democratic nomination to succeed her, but not with her support. He is too conservative for Prague’s taste.

Prague was absent when the Senate finished a debate on education reform at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.

She has been involved in state government for 30 years, winning the first of five terms to the House in 1982. She resigned before the start of her fifth term to accept a post in Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.’s administration as the commissioner of aging.

She and Weicker clashed over budget cuts, and the governor fired her in 1992.

Prague was elected to the Senate in 1994, succeeding Democrat Ken Przybysz, whom she beat in a Democratic primary. In 2008 and 2010, she was cross-endorsed by the Working Families Party.

Unopposed by Republicans in 2008, she had a close call in 2010. Without the votes she gained on the WFP line, she would have lost. In a presidential year, her re-election prospects were expected to be easier.

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.

Leave a comment