Mary Jodi Rell (born June 16, 1946) is a Republican politician and was the 87th Governor of the U.S. state of Connecticut from 2004 until 2011. She was the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut under Governor John G. Rowland, who resigned during a corruption investigation. Rell is Connecticut's second female Governor, after Ella T. Grasso. On November 9, 2009, Rell announced she would not seek re-election in 2010, and she was succeeded by current Governor Dan Malloy.
Born Mary Carolyn Reavis in Norfolk, Virginia, Rell attended Old Dominion University, but left in 1967 to marry Lou Rell, a U.S. Navy pilot. She moved to Brookfield, Connecticut in 1969 and later attended, but did not graduate from, Western Connecticut State University. She never graduated from college. She received honorary law doctorates from the University of Hartford in 2001 and the University of New Haven in 2004.
Rell served as a Connecticut State Representative for the 107th District in Brookfield from 1985 until 1995. Quinnipiac University poll showing her at 80 percent, the highest rating ever measured by that poll for a governor in Connecticut.She announced in October 2005 she would seek a four-year term in 2006, and was nominated by the Republican Party in May 2006 to seek a full term of her own. Stamford businessman and former state representative Michael Fedele was nominated as her running mate as Lieutenant Governor. Rell defeated her Democratic opponent, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in the 2006 Connecticut gubernatorial election.
She became Lieutenant Governor after the 1994 election and won re-election in 1998 and 2002. Becoming governor in 2004 after John Rowland's resignation, Rell was elected to her own full term on November 7, 2006. She received approximately 710,000 votes, the highest total for any gubernatorial candidate in Connecticut history. In her first months in office, Rell had high approval ratings, with a December 2004
Governor of Connecticut
On April 20, 2005, Rell signed into law a bill that made Connecticut the first state to adopt civil unions for same-sex couples without being directed to do so by a court. Rell has subsequently announced that were the legislature to pass a bill establishing gay marriage in Connecticut, that she would veto the bill. In January 2008, Rell reached agreement with legislative leaders on a number of criminal justice reforms which were responsive to the systemic failures prior to the Cheshire home invasion. Rell reiterated her call for a Three Strikes law on March 31, 2008, following the kidnapping and murder of an elderly New Britain woman committed by a convicted sex offender recently released from Connecticut prison.
In May 2008, Rell vetoed a bill to raise the minimum wage in the state of Connecticut. The legislature successfully voted to override Rell's veto in June 2008. The legislation will raise Connecticut's current wage of $7.65 an hour to $8 beginning in January 2009, and to $8.25 an hour in 2010. However, on April 23, 2009, Rell signed a bill into law providing for a gender neutral marriage statute. It also provides for civil unions to be automatically transformed into marriages on October 1, 2010. On June 6, 2010 Governor Rell proclaimed the statewide Romel Joseph Day at a benefit concert for 2010 Haiti earthquake relief. In September 2010, Rell was one of seven governors to receive a grade of F in the Cato Institute's fiscal-policy report card.
Governor Rell was one of many Republicans mentioned as a potential candidate for vice president in the 2008 presidential election.The presidential nominee John McCain chose Alaska's Sarah Palin as his running mate instead.
In April 2008, Rell's Lt. Governor, Michael Fedele told the media he expected Rell to run for re-election in 2010.In August 2008 she told reporters she would file an exploratory committee for a 2010 reelection bid.She announced on November 9, 2009, that she would not seek re-election.On August 10, 2010, Democratic Party candidate Dan Malloy and Republican Party candidate Tom Foley won their primary elections in their effort to succeed Rell.
On August 10, 2010, Democratic Party candidate Dan Malloy and Republican Party candidate Tom Foley won their primary elections in their efforts to succeed Rell. Following a close election on November 2, Malloy was officially declared governor-elect on November 8 and succeeded Rell on January 5, 2011.
Rell is married and has two grown children. In April 2006, she became a grandmother. Her 2006 campaign advertisements featured her with her grandson. Rell underwent surgery for breast cancer in December 2004 and has remained healthy since.