Rowland Effect on Conn. Race Not So Great

As controversy grew last spring amid a corruption investigation in former Gov. John G. Rowland's (search) administration, many Republicans privately braced for political repercussions on Election Day.

But more than three months after Rowland resigned — and less than a month before voters go to the polls — both Republicans and Democrats agree the scandal has had less of an impact than expected.

"Democrats realize the problem was pretty personal to Rowland and not a Republican issue, and the public wanted a change and it wants to move on and for us to govern," said Republican House Minority Leader Robert Ward (search).

Amid federal and state investigations into his administration, Rowland came under fire for accepting gifts from friends, politically appointed employees and state contractors. Rowland said he provided nothing in return to the gift-givers but resigned on July 1. He has not been charged with a crime.

Since his resignation, Rowland's former co-chief of staff and a major contractor have been indicted on corruption charges.

State Democratic Party Chairman George Jepsen (search) said Rowland has not been an issue in most legislative races because so many incumbent Republicans had called for Rowland to step down.

Just weeks after Rowland admitted he lied about who paid for improvements to his Litchfield cottage, several Senate Republicans publicly demanded his resignation, he said.

"Most Republicans inoculated themselves very early by abandoning ship at the earliest possible moment. ... They acted prudently," he said.

However, Jepsen has targeted one legislator as an exception: state Sen. William Aniskovich, who faces Democrat Ed Meyer for the 12th District Senate seat.

The second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, Aniskovich originally opposed creating a state legislative committee to investigate Rowland, saying lawmakers should wait until the federal probe and a State Ethics Commission investigation were finished.

Jepson and other Democrats have underscored Aniskovich's connections to Rowland.

But Aniskovich said Jepsen has been campaigning on little else than the Rowland issue: "I think in order to get elected, you have to have something more than nasty things to say about your opponent," he said.