What vote data tells us

Like the Jack Webb-created Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday, from the 1950s and 1960s TV drama “Dragnet,” readers often tell us, “All we want are the facts.”

A Sept. 23 story by Day Staff Writer Erica Moser that broke down the attendance and party-line votes of state legislators, focusing on our local senators and representatives, did exactly that. Moser examined the data compiled by the House and Senate clerk’s offices and summarized by the Connecticut State Library. The full report is available on The Day’s webpage.

Given this is an editorial, we offer a few observations about those facts.

Encouraging were attendance records. They show up, give them that. Median attendance for legislative votes was 99% in the Senate, 98% in the House.

Yet Rep. Joe de la Cruz, a Democrat whose 41st District includes section of Groton and New London, made a salient point about attendance. Among local lawmakers, de la Cruz had the worst attendance at 89%. De la Cruz argues that if you want a legislature only made up of retirees or those in professions that provide the leeway to attend every vote, you are not going to necessarily get a legislature representative of the needs of working people, of which de la Cruz includes himself. He is a manager at the Hillery Co. in Groton, a metal fabrication manufacturer.

We expect his argument will be tested in 2020, should he seek re-election.

Another big takeaway is that the legislature agrees far more than it disagrees, with the minority Republican Party voting with the Democratic majority 80% of the time in the Senate, 74% in the House. Votes are often unanimous on ceremonial and routine bills, with differences reserved for the fiscal and regulatory policies that drive the ideological divide between the major parties.

We also found a couple of local Republican representatives ride in their own political lane. Being further right than the state's Republican mainstream largely explains why Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, voted against his party 17% of the time, and Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, 13% of the time.

Also jumping out in the data was Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, voting against his party twice, so small a number it was recorded as 0%. Should he seek re-election in 2020, that party loyalty could come back to haunt the incumbent. The 33rd District Needleman represents is politically divided, the freshman senator having defeated his Republican opponent by just 85 votes last November. Those Republicans who opted to vote for the businessman with the expectation he would act with some independence have to be disappointed.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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