Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz

Official Web Site

Present term: January 2007 to January 2011

Election history: Bysiewicz was elected secretary of the state in 1998, succeeding Democrat Miles S. Rapoport, who ran for Congress. She won the Democratic nomination in a primary, defeating state Rep. Ellen Scalettar. Bysiewicz was re-elected in 2002 and 2006.

She was elected to three terms in the state House of Representatives, beginning in 1992.

She is not seeking re-election.

2006 general election

Susan Bysiewicz (D)
729,070 70 percent
Richard J. Abbate (R)
276,033 26 percent
Ken Mosher (L)
13,043 1 percent
Jean Marie Burness (CC*)
8,874 1 percent
S. Michael DeRosa (Green)
17,851 2 percent

*Concerned Citizens

Background: Bysiewicz wrote a book in law school about Ella Grasso, a secretary of the state who became Connecticut’s first female governor. It is a path Bysiewicz has been intent on following for nearly eight years, which made her sudden and ultimately doomed switch to the attorney general’s race in January a puzzle.

She formed an exploratory committee shortly after the 2002 election to raise money for a gubernatorial challenge in 2006, but she decided to seek re-election instead as polling correctly showed that Gov. M. Jodi Rell was going to be a formidable opponent. Bysiewicz ramped up again to prepare for a 2010 gubernatorial run. With Rell not seeking re-election and Bysiewicz enjoying the highest name recognition in a crowded Democratic field, her gubernatorial hopes seemed within reach.

But U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd’s decision not to seek re-election immediately drew Attorney General Richard Blumenthal into the Senate race. Bysiewicz then decided to seek Blumenthal’s job, even though she was the front-runner in the early polls for governor.  Questions soon arose about whether she met a statutory requirement of having actively practiced law for 10 years in Connecticut. In response to litigation she initiated, the state Supreme Court concluded in May that she did not, knocking her from the ballot four days before the Democratic State Convention.

Bysiewicz considered a late jump to a race for another office, but decided to sit out 2010. She may run for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Bysiewicz’s tenure as secretary of the state, the constitutional officer who oversees election laws, has been eventful. Under pressure from the federal government, Connecticut abandoned its mechanical voting machines and instituted a system of paper ballots and optical scanners. Bysiewicz initially favored an ATM-style voting system that was criticized by advocacy group, TrueVoteCT, as susceptible to fraud.

With her support, the legislature also gave 17-year-olds the right to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by election day.

The state also changed the law for filling a U.S. Senate vacancy, requiring a special election instead of a gubernatorial appointment. In 2008, when Sens. Dodd and Joseph I. Lieberman each were seen as potential cabinet appointments, the change had the potential to affect the control of the Senate.

She previously was a lawyer for the Aetna, Robinson & Cole, and White and Case.

Bysiewicz and her husband have three children. They live in Middletown.

Education: B.A., Yale University; J.D., Duke University School of Law.

2008 Financial Disclosure: Aside from her state salary, Bysiewicz reported interest and dividend income. Her husband, David Donaldson, had income from his business, the Bysiewicz-Donaldson Insurance Agency in Manchester. She and her husband own their home in Middletown. Bysiewicz also owns family property in Middletown with her sibllings.

Investments held by Bysiewicz or her husband included stock in Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway, Exxon, General Electric, Home Depot, Microsoft, Nucor Corp., RPM International, 3M and Wells Fargo.

She filed a confidential addendum listing any debts exceeding $10,000. She declined to release the addendum, as is her 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.