ANALYSIS | Democrats Gain Seats In General Assembly
Democrats picked up seats in both the state House of Representatives and the State Senate Tuesday despite expectations that Republicans had a shot at winning one or both chambers.
Republican hopes of capturing the state House of Representatives faded quickly Tuesday night with wins for Democrats over Republican incumbents in Windsor/Windsor Locks and Manchester. In the heavily contested state Senate, Republican incumbents Mike McLachlan, Len Suzio, and Toni Boucher all lost.
Boucher, who briefly ran for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year, lost to 22-year-old Will Haskell, a recent college graduate who was endorsed by former president Barack Obama in October. McLachlan was defeated by Julie Kushner, a retired union organizer and former co-chair of the Working Families Party. Mary Abrams, a retired teacher, defeated Suzio in Meriden.
In the 33rd Senate District, Democrat Norm Needleman narrowly defeated incumbent Sen. Melissa Ziobron. The margin of victory around midnight Tuesday was 89 votes and a recount was expected. But once absentee ballots were counted, Needleman had won by 303 votes.
In the House, Republicans in Enfield, Windsor/Windsor Locks, Danbury, and Greenwich all lost. In Greenwich, Democrats broke a century-long lock on Republicans holding all the state representative seats as Stephen Meskers, a retired financial analyst, defeated incumbent Rep. Michael Boccino in the coastal 150th District. Enfield town council member Tom Arnone, a Democrat, defeated one-term incumbent Rep. Greg Stokes to take back the 58th District. In the 60th District, which covers Windsor Locks and part of Windsor, Democrat Jane Garibay defeated Rep. Scott Storms. In the 2nd District, which covers Danbury and Bethel, Republican Rep. Will Duff lost to Raghib Allie-Brennan, who had previously run for the seat and lost in 2016.
House Democrats said in a statement early Wednesday morning: “We had a great group of strong, hard working candidates that were able to connect with voters with a message of strengthening our economy by investing in middle class families and local businesses. Voters soundly rejected the negativity and attacks favored by many of the Republican campaigns, and saw through the large influx of out-of-state ‘dark money’ that targeted our campaign.”
Sen. President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said in a statement, “Tonight was a big night for Democrats in the State Senate. Our candidates presented a vision for our state that represented Connecticut’s best values. The Senate Democrats will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda that ensures access to quality health care, institutes an earned family medical leave program, toughens penalties for sexual harassment, makes education more affordable, and moves toward a $15 an hour minimum wage.”
Democrats picked up seats in greater Hartford, the Danbury area, and along the coastline as demographics and party allegiances appear to have shifted.
In Norwalk, the blue momentum even swept former Republican House Minority Leader Larry Cafero out of the probate judge race.
There was one bright spot for Republicans: they picked up the seat of retiring Rep. Danny Rovero as Republican Rick Hayes, the former chief of police in Putnam, defeated Democrat Larry Groh.
CT House of Representatives