Martin M. Looney

Position
State Senator, Senate President Pro Tempore
District
11th District: Hamden, New Haven, North Haven
Social media
Committees
Legislative Management (co-chair); Executive and Legislative Nominations (vice chair)
Previous Positions
House of Representatives
Education
B.A., Fairfield University; M.A., J.D., University of Connecticut
Occupation
Attorney and college instructor
Public Financing
No
Marty Looney faced personal and political crises as 2016 wound down: A lifetime of medication for arthritis left him in need of a kidney transplant, and the 2016 election delivered him an evenly divided Senate. He underwent a successful transplant days before Christmas, accepting an organ donated by a friend, Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer. His continued hold on being president pro tem relies on the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, the Democrat who is the presiding officer of the Senate under the Connecticut Constitution.

The longtime Senate majority leader, Looney became its top leader, the president pro tempore, on the opening day of the 2015 session. He succeeded Donald E. Williams Jr., who held the post for a decade. Looney is the longest-serving legislator in the Senate (with a tenure split between the chambers) and a student of the General Assembly's history and traditions. He has a professorial manner, befitting someone with degrees in literature and theology, but has not lacked for political ambition.

Before becoming Democratic majority leader in 2003, Looney had stints as co-chair of the banks and finance committees. In New Haven, he lost a bruising primary for the Democratic mayoral nomination in 2001 to Mayor John DeStefano. Looney's chief of staff is Vinnie Mauro, who moonlights as the Democratic town chairman of New Haven, which produces more Democratic votes than any other municipality in Connecticut.

In the Senate, Looney has a record of supporting progressive causes and organized labor. Two of his priorities for 2017 reflect a pro-labor agenda: raising the minimum wage, which went to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017, to $15 in steps; and creating an employee-funded system of paid family leave.

He supported mandating insurance coverage for autism therapy, the decriminalization of marijuana, the abolition of the death penalty, and allowing undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges at in-state rates. As a House member in 1991, he voted for passage of the income tax.

The election of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2010 as the state's first Democratic governor in 20 years gave Looney a chance to see long-sought legislation pass, most notably an earned income tax credit for the working poor that Looney had sought for more than two decades.

He and Malloy have had a profitable partnership, working together to pass laws decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, legalizing the production and sale of marijuana for limited medical uses, twice increasing the state's minimum wage (though not in 2017), mandating that certain private employers offer paid sick days and repealing the death penalty. But a chronic fiscal crisis, driven by a slow recovery from the 2008 recession and an unfunded pension liability, have limited their ambitions.

Looney lives in New Haven with his wife, Ellen. They have one son and one grandson.
Election history
Looney won an open Senate seat in 1992, succeeding Democrat Anthony V. Avallone. He had been elected to six terms in the House, beginning in 1980.
Most recent election
Martin M Looney D 28731
Financial disclosure
In a Statement of Financial Interest, Looney reported outside income from his law firm, Keyes and Looney, and from teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven and Quinnipiac University. He and his wife reported owning no securities worth more than $5,000.
Recent stories