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Carroll Hughes, veteran Connecticut lobbyist, dies at age 79

November 2, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Carroll Hughes, a veteran lobbyist at the Connecticut state Capitol who was well-known for representing the interests of package store owners and the state’s police chiefs, has died. He was 79.

His wife and partner at Hughes & Cronin Public Affairs Strategies, Jean Cronin, confirmed to the Hartford Courant that her husband died on Monday evening at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital after battling leukemia for three years.

“He lived a great life, loved his job, loved his family, loved the Capitol, loved everything about it,’′ Cronin said. “He will be missed. He’s just one of a kind. Larger than life.”

Hughes established the state’s first independent lobbying practice in 1974, according to the firm’s website, paving the way for other lobbying firms in Connecticut.

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Hughes, who served as executive director of the Connecticut Package Stores Association, for years fended off efforts to revamp many of the the state’s liquor laws, often arguing proposals such as changing the state’s pricing structure or allowing allowing liquor sales on Sundays would ultimately hurt small family-owned stores.

During public hearings at the state Capitol, Hughes would often criticize bills for benefitting big box stores and chains at the expense of the small, independent liquor store owner. In 2019, he noted, for example, how one proposal had provisions he said were “designed and written in some corporate boardroom far from here, designed to eliminate the stores.”

“Fierce, smart, and hardworking, he was a friend to so many,” state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, the second-highest ranking Senate Republican, said in a written statement. “He will be missed by all and remembered for helping bring the voices of many – from small business owners to the brave men and women in law enforcement – to the state Capitol.”

“Carroll was brilliant at his job,” former West Hartford police chief James Strillacci, who was a former president of the police chiefs association, told the Courant. He called Hughes “a guide to the byzantine ways of the legislature, a font of historical lore and a sage adviser.”