Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced on Tuesday that he will not run for reelection in 2018.

The news follows the withdrawal of several high-profile state politicians from the gubernatorial race. In April, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced he would not seek a third term, while both Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman — whom many saw as the next in line to Malloy —and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo have in the past few months announced they will not run for the position. In the wake of those notable withdrawals, a flood of new candidates has rushed to enter the now-wide-open 2018 gubernatorial and attorney general races.

“It has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as Attorney General for the State of Connecticut,” Jepsen said in a press release. “While my love for the work of this office is undiminished, I am ready to pursue different challenges.”

He did not elaborate on what he plans to do next. But, at a press conference at his Hartford office Tuesday, Jepsen said that, at the age of 64, he is still young enough to “write a new and different chapter” in his life — something he does not think he will be able to say four years from now.

Although the announcement came as a surprise to many, the shock did not last long, as nearly a dozen candidates rushed to enter the previously uncontested attorney general race or expressed interest in testing the waters. When Malloy announced in April that he would not seek a third term, two dozen gubernatorial candidates and potential candidates threw their hats in the ring.

Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, told the News he is exploring the possibility of running for attorney general. According to D’Agostino, “everyone you know with a law degree” is now thinking about running for the position of attorney general in Connecticut.

“I was shocked and surprised as I think just about everybody was,” he said.

Jepsen, a Harvard Law graduate, has received overwhelming praise since making his announcement. In the six years he served as attorney general, he won the state millions of dollars in legal settlements and joined the cohort of Democratic attorney generals that has challenged many of President Donald Trump’s policies.

Over the course of 2017, Jepsen took part in eight legal battles to block Trump administration policies. Four of these battles focused on environmental issues such as federal regulation of ozone pollution and greenhouse gas emission standards. In September, Connecticut joined a 14-state coalition in a lawsuit to block Trump’s reversal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Jepsen also fought this year to defend health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

D’Agostino called Jepsen a tremendous attorney general and said he will leave “massive shoes to fill.”

“We need an Attorney General who will continue the legacies of George Jepsen and Dick Blumenthal, standing up to powerful special interests and fighting for those who need an advocate,” William Tong, D-Stamford, who recently entered the attorney general race, wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

Though the 2018 elections are almost a full year away, gubernatorial candidates have similarly wasted no time getting their campaigns up and running.

Middletown Mayor Dan Drew told the News he launched his exploratory campaign in January and declared his candidacy in July.

“To be competitive you need to hear from a lot of people,” he said. “You need to start early.”

Another gubernatorial candidate, Jonathan Harris, who was working as the consumer protection commissioner, said he resigned from the job to focus on his candidacy for governor. He is currently working as a private attorney.

Before assuming the role of attorney general, Jepsen served in the Connecticut Senate.

Ashna Gupta | ashna.gupta@yale.edu

ASHNA GUPTA