HARTFORD, Conn. – Former Gov. John Rowland's (search) supporters predict he will rebound from his corruption conviction, make use of old contacts in Washington, find work as a consultant and possibly resume his efforts to help Connecticut's cities.
But Rowland's critics and some of his old political colleagues say he faces an uncertain future as a convicted felon and disgraced former public official since being sentenced to prison Friday.
"My guess is that it's going to be very difficult for him after this. I think this is a stain he will have to bear for a long time. I don't think people will forget it very quickly," said Republican Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca (search). "Unfortunately, he brought it all on himself and he's going to have to suffer the consequences."
Rowland, 47, was sentenced to a year plus one day in federal prison, four months of home confinement and three years of supervised release. He also was fined $82,000.
The three-term Republican pleaded guilty in December to one corruption charge, admitting he accepted more than $100,000 in chartered trips to Las Vegas, Vermont vacations and repairs to his lakeside cottage. A decade after becoming Connecticut's youngest-ever governor, Rowland resigned in July under threat of impeachment.
Many say Rowland's future is brighter than once expected. While prosecutors sought a three-year prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Peter Dorsey showed mercy. Rowland could be eligible for release in 10 months.
Ross Garber, a defense attorney who served as legal counsel to the governor's office under Rowland, compared the former governor to homemaking mogul Martha Stewart (search), who was recently released after five months in prison for lying to investigators about a stock sale.
"I think the sentence is long enough to force him to reflect on his actions, but not so long as to prevent him from coming back," Garber said. "I think with the sentence of this length, he can look toward the next phase of his life."
Rowland's friends say he has no firm plans for life after prison. But some speculate that the former congressman will receive a warm reception from old friends in Washington.
Rowland likely won't be tapped on corporate boards, but some companies may want to hire him for his leadership skills. He could also be hired for political consulting work, friends said.
After resigning from office last summer, Rowland worked as a consultant for two firms that did business with the state — a construction company and an education software firm. He earned about $15,000 a month plus expenses.
"Governor Rowland is a talent. He's a leader, and I think once all of this is behind him he's got great things to do and I think he's going to accomplish them," said Brad Davis, a radio personality and friend of Rowland's for nine years.
While his political future is uncertain, Davis said he expects Rowland will eventually refocus on one of the main issues of his administration: revitalizing urban areas. Rowland forged strong ties with key members of Hartford's African-American community as governor and following his resignation.
Senate President Donald Williams Jr., a Democrat, said it's up to Rowland whether he'll rebound.
"Ideally, he will help turn his life around and reflect upon what has happened — perhaps admit more than what he has to date in terms of his own responsibility rather than blaming others," Williams said. "If he does that, I think there's a good chance that he can go forward and make more of himself in the future."