After winning 11 elections in his hometown, House Republican leader Larry Cafero announced Wednesday that he is retiring after 22 years in the legislature and eight years as caucus leader.
A blunt-talking political veteran, Cafero is known for his outspoken speeches on the floor of the state House of Representatives on a wide variety of high-profile issues, including the death penalty, gun control, crime, education, and the state budget. He is also known for his sharp criticisms of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy over the past 3 1/2 years.
In his 19-minute farewell speech on the House floor Wednesday, Cafero noted that he has clashed often with the House Democrats on public policies.
\”It was never personal, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart,\’\’ Cafero told his colleagues.
He also offered a bit of advice to his friends. \”Learn to laugh at yourself,\’\’ Cafero said. \”Don\’t ever take yourself too seriously.\’\’
He added, \”It\’s my turn to say goodbye. … Thank you.\’\’
Cafero, 56, cited some of the \”giants\’\’ of the state legislature who were known for their impassioned debates through the years, including Republicans Richard Belden of Shelton and William Wollenberg of Farmington and Democrats Richard Tulisano of Rocky Hill and Bill Dyson of New Haven.
\”These people were giants,\’\’ Cafero said.
He mentioned many of those in the crowded chamber who attended his farewell, including former House GOP leader Bob Ward and former Senate GOP leader Lou DeLuca.
Cafero said he was looking forward to spending time with his 94-year-old father and his 89-year-old mother who had attended a \”State of the State\’\’ speech he delivered last year in Norwalk.
\”They tied my shoes when I couldn\’t, and maybe it\’s time to tie their\’s,\’\’ Cafero said as he thanked his parents, his wife, and his three children.
Cafero will not be seeking reelection this fall, but he will continue to serve in his seat until January 2015.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat who served in the House chamber with Cafero 20 years ago, called him \”an institution\’\’ in the legislature.
Cafero thanked everyone from his caucus to the Capitol police to the janitors who clean the Capitol at night, as well as \”our lobbyist community, who I have incredible respect for.\’\’
To mark the day, the traditional prayer at the beginning of the House session was delivered by Msgr. Walter C. Orlowski, the pastor for the past 20 years at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Cafero\’s hometown of Norwalk. As the guest chaplain for the day, the monsignor cited Cafero\’s \”strength of character\’\’ in the prayer and asked that Cafero\’s future \”be filled with every grace and blessing.\’\’ Following the prayer, Cafero was asked by House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey to lead the chamber in the Pledge of Allegiance. Cafero received a round of applause after the Pledge.
Although Cafero’s announcement in the House chamber had been long planned, it was delayed several times, including by the death of Rep. Elaine O’Brien of Suffield. The announcement comes one month after the resignation of George Gallo, the longtime House Republican chief of staff who is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation into whether Republican legislators were steered into using a Florida direct-mail house for their campaign brochures. No charges have been filed in the probe.
In a rare speech from the dais Wednesday, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey said, \”The first person who came to me to congratulate me on my election was Larry.\’\’
\”We do have our differences. We do have our different philosophies,\’\’ Sharkey said, adding that Cafero would \”still support you on a personal level nonetheless.\’\’
\”I know I can call Larry at any time to ask for help,\’\’ Sharkey said. \”We both fundamentally love the state of Connecticut. Larry, you are an extraordinary leader and an even better friend.\’\’ Continue reading