Conn. governor fails to win party's backing for casino


HARTFORD, Conn. -- On Friday morning, Gov. John G. Rowland made an impassioned appeal to fellow Republicans in the state Senate to support his proposal for a Bridgeport casino out of party loyalty.

"We as a party, the party of local control, the party of welfare reform, the party that's trying to reach out to cities and trying to reach out to minorities, this is our opportunity," Mr. Rowland told them.

"This is our chance."

But few Republicans deemed it a chance worth taking, and it showed the limits of Mr. Rowland's considerable political skills. As the Republican-controlled Senate voted resoundingly against it Friday afternoon, Mr. Rowland suffered his worst defeat in his 11-month-old term. Of the 19 Republican state senators, only six lined up behind him.

The vote was 24-10, with two Democratic state senators absent.

Some lawmakers grumbled that Mr. Rowland had ruined any chances for a casino in Bridgeport by choosing the Mashantucket Pequot Indians as the developer over a rival casino company, Mirage Resorts of Las Vegas. If the Pequots, who own the immensely successful Foxwoods Resort Casino in eastern Connecticut, had been allowed to build in Bridgeport, they would have been guaranteed a monopoly on casino gambling in the state, along with one other Indian tribe.

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