STAMFORD, Conn. — State Rep. William Tong of Stamford called out Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Herbst of Trumbull for criticizing the governor's choice of a new State Supreme Court chief justice.
Tong, a Democrat, called Herbst’s criticism "bigoted." Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald of Stamford, whom Gov. Dannel P. Malloy plans to nominate for chief justice, is openly gay.
“I am disgusted by Tim Herbst's bigoted attack on Justice Andrew McDonald. I know that Herbst is trying to ride a wave of hate and division to the governor’s mansion he so covets," Tong said.
"But there is no place in Connecticut for Herbst’s dog-whistle tactics to try to smear a judicial nominee – a nominee for chief justice, no less – on the day his nomination was announced. I know what a hateful attack on Andrew McDonald looks like – this is not the first time. And it’s even uglier coming from a major Republican candidate for governor."
Tong is also House chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
"Tim Herbst is clearly trying to poison the well and prejudice Justice McDonald’s nomination before it reaches the Judiciary Committee and the House and Senate for consideration," Tong said. "If Herbst will directly interfere with the proceedings of the General Assembly so unfairly and aggressively as a candidate, one can hardly fathom what he would do if he were governor."
According to the CT Mirror , Herbst called the choice a political one — citing the long friendship between Malloy and McDonald.
“Justice McDonald, as a former state senator and political adviser to Dan Malloy, demonstrated a partisan streak that continued as Gov. Malloy’s chief legal counsel for two years,” Herbst told the CT Mirror. “McDonald had no judicial experience when he was nominated to the Supreme Court by this governor. If John Rowland or Jodi Rell nominated their best friend and political adviser to serve as the chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, they would have been rightfully excoriated by the political opposition and likely criticized by those in their own party.”
But Tong defended McDonald's experience — which included serving on Stamford's Board of Representatives, its Board of Finance and as its corporation counsel. He was also a state senator and general counsel to the governor.
“Justice McDonald has distinguished himself throughout his life and career," Tong said. "He is now a Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. No lawyer in Connecticut is more qualified to serve as chief justice or in any legal role. Tim Herbst has none of these credentials, and as far as I can tell, is not qualified to do any of these jobs.”
If confirmed, McDonald will become the first openly gay Supreme Court chief justice of any state in the country
Current Chief Justice Chase Rogers plans to retire on Feb. 5.
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