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Connecticut's Republican Gov. Jodi Rell stunned a lot of people yesterday when she announced she would not seek re-election next year, but while a new survey from Quinnipiac released today showed her potentially vulnerable to a challenge from Democratic Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, the pollster said Rell appeared to be rebounding from her recent job-approval slump.
Rell gave no specific reason for her decision other than saying, "At some point, you know inside that it is time to begin a new chapter in life." Like other governors, she faces a big state budget deficit due to the recession and months of arm-wrestling with the Democratic-controlled legislature on what to do about it.
The Quinnipiac poll, conducted Nov. 3-8, found Rell leading by 46 percent to 40 percent with 12 percent undecided in a match-up against Bysiewicz, if the latter were to win the Democratic nomination. The poll's margin of error is 2.8 points.
Another potential Democratic contender is Ned Lamont, famous for wresting the Democratic Senate nomination from Joseph Lieberman in 2006 over Lieberman's hawkish stand on Iraq, and then losing in the general election to Lieberman, who ran as an independent. Lamont has launched an exploratory committee.
But matched against Rell, Lamont didn't fare as well as Bysiewicz, with Rell leading 53 percent to 33 percent with 12 percent undecided.
Lamont and Bysiewicz are the only two Democrats in double-digits in a trial heat for the Democratic nomination, with Bysiewicz leading, 26 percent to 23 percent.
Rell was seen favorably by 60 percent of voters and unfavorably by 29 percent, prompting Quinnipiac to observe (obviously before it learned of her withdrawal): "Gov. Rell is rebounding from her approval slump. We saw her dropping through the summer and now she is starting back up. If this trend continues, she will be hard to beat."
Rell, who had been lieutenant governor, took the reins in 2004 after the resignation of Gov. John Rowland during a corruption scandal that eventually landed him in prison. Rell won election on her own in 2006 with 63 percent of the vote.
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