Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy's nominee for chief justice of Connecticut's highest court appeared destined for defeat after it became clear on Monday that no Republicans in the state Senate planned to vote in favor of Associate Justice Andrew McDonald's promotion.
Malloy refused to withdraw McDonald's nomination, which has become one of the state's most politically rancorous judicial appointments in recent memory, complete with robocalls and TV ads. He said McDonald, a longtime friend and former Democratic state senator, is highly qualified and deserves a vote, even though he said Republicans have politicized what has traditionally been more of a nonpartisan appointment process.
The Senate was scheduled vote on McDonald's nomination Tuesday.
"Just like elections, votes have consequences," Malloy warned. "If Senate Republicans choose to vote down an extremely qualified candidate for chief justice, and someone who also would be the first gay chief justice in the country, they should be held accountable."
Malloy and some Democratic legislative leaders have accused Republicans of not supporting McDonald, in part, because he is close to the governor and because he is gay, accusations Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano strongly denied.
"I get outraged when I hear it. I get angry when I hear it because it is a false narrative," Fasano said of the accusation, saying "name-calling is below what this institution stands for."
Fasano denied that GOP senators were voting as a bloc, saying most decided individually to oppose the 51-year-old McDonald after reviewing his record over the past five years on the court. He explained there are concerns about McDonald using "outside evidence" in making decisions, among other issues.
Despite McDonald having received endorsements from Connecticut law school deans, the Connecticut Bar Association and other legal scholars, Fasano said GOP lawmakers have heard privately from attorneys and others who have concerns about McDonald but said they could not speak publicly about their criticisms.
McDonald's nomination cleared the House of Representatives earlier this month on a narrow 75-74 vote. In the Senate, there are an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. But one Democrat is recusing herself, requiring GOP support.
Fasano said he expects all 18 of his members in the 36-member Senate to show up for Tuesday's vote. If McDonald is not confirmed as chief justice, he will remain on the court as an associate justice.