Will Republican Tide Reach The State Legislature?
Democratic incumbents in Connecticut’s congressional races aren’t the only candidates sweating the widespread anti-incumbent sentiment among voters. Republican state Senator Tony Guglielmo, first elected to the Senate in 1994, said Monday that it’s an issue GOP incumbents are worried about too.
“If this were a one-on-one race, I think I would win easily. But if folks are voting with an anti-incumbent sentiment, well that’s above my pay rank,” he said. “If that’s the case a few of us may be looking for jobs soon.”
But Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said he believes the majority of the anti-incumbent attitude is leveled at representatives in Washington D.C.
“I would say the strongest anti-candidate sentiment is more of an anti-Washington attitude,” he said Monday. “I think those down in Washington have the most to lose and voters are aware the Democrats are in power there.”
McKinney said while there is, to a lesser extent, an anti-government and anti-incumbent attitude but noted that during his time in the senate, six election cycles, he’s only seen three incumbents defeated.
McKinney expects the Republican party to pick up some seats in Connecticut.
“I think you’re going to see Republican candidates more competitive this year than in the past,” he said, adding that he expects Republican victories in the fourth and fifth congressional districts and also expects Republican Tom Foley to win the governor’s race.
Democrats like Speaker of the House Chris Donovan have a different take on what to expect Tuesday. Instead of the top of the ticket helping out the bottom of the ticket, Donovan thinks the candidates at the bottom of the ticket running for state House and Senate will carry the top of the ticket.
“There’s a lot of things incumbents worked to take care of up here and their constituents know it,” Donovan said earlier this week. “The local races will help out the top of the ticket.”
He said he thinks the Democrats will keep all 114 of their seats in the House.
But there are several open seats this year as veteran lawmakers sought higher office or retired. Donovan estimated there were 17 Democrats and five Republicans not seeking re-election this year. In the Senate there’s two Republicans and two Democrats not seeking re-election.
Donovan said the last time there was a national Republican wave in 1994, Connecticut was one of the only state legislature’s where Democrats picked up seats.
Rep. John Geragosian, co-chairman of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, remembers that year well. It was his first year in office and he recently recalled that Connecticut was one of the only state’s to usher in new Democrats, while Republicans made big gains in Washington. .
While it’s more than likely Republicans will pick up a few seat, Geragosian wondered why Republicans failed to mount challenges to both him and his co-chairwoman Sen. Toni Harp of New Haven. Geragosian and Harp will author the legislature’s spending proposal next year after the new governor presents their first budget.
While political insiders are estimating that Democrats in the House may lose seven to 11 seats and possibly one to three in the Senate, it won’t see a shift in power similar to the one expected in Washington D.C.
Republicans have more candidates running this year than previous years, but Democrats are still widely thought to maintain the majority.
The last time the Republicans held a majority in the state House was back in 1984 when the Republicans picked up 21 seats as party lever voters cast their ballots for President Ronald Regan. The party lever disappeared in 1986.
According to CTNewsjunkie columnist Heath Fahle, Democrats have maintained consistent majorities in the legislature.
Stay tuned to CTNewsjunkie.com on Tuesday to find out how many seats Republicans will gain and how many Democrats could lose.