BY William McGuinness
October 09 2009 9:00 AM ET
Connolly himself is a member of one of those traditional families targeted by Schubert -- he and his wife, Nicole, have a baby son. Connolly’s father, late state representative Larry Connolly, championed an unsuccessful 1977 bill to amend the Maine Human Rights Act by extending equal rights to gays and lesbians. “For me, [No on 1] is a continuation of his work,” Connolly says.
At his young age Connolly has already achieved a winning record and a place among the state’s political elite. In 2004 he helped Massachusetts senator John Kerry win Maine in both the Democratic presidential caucus and the general election. In 2005 he led the successful Maine Won’t Discriminate campaign, preserving the state law enacted that year that prohibited anti-LGBT discrimination. Connolly also managed the successful 2006 reelection campaign of Maine governor John Baldacci, who signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law this year.
Connolly is optimistic that Maine will hold on to marriage equality, even though a September poll showed the marriage ban leading slightly. It’s also unclear which campaign has more money (as of September, both Stand for Marriage and No on 1 weren’t releasing figures on their war chests). But the difference between winning and losing, Connolly says, is appealing to the state’s native beliefs, and his track record suggests he knows what they are.
“We have this really strong sense of fairness,” Connolly says. “We really just don’t believe that there should be one set of rules for some people and a separate, unequal set for others.”