Defying a national wave of Republican victories Tuesday night, Democrats swept Congressional races across Connecticut, as well as the race to fill retiring Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat.
Just two years after Democrats swept to power with the election of President Barack Obama, Republicans have retaken the House of Representatives and stalled Democratic hopes for two more years of single-party control in Washington, D.C.
Democrats lost at least 59 seats and their majority in the House to the Republicans, but managed to hold a slim majority in the Senate, losing at least six seats. At press time, the Republicans had secured 234 seats in the House and 46 seats in the Senate, and were poised for at least a handful of additional pickups. But Connecticut Democrats mostly escaped the brunt of the backlash Tuesday night, as the Congressional delegation and several constitutional offices remained entirely in Democratic hands.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who cruised to an eleventh term representing the third congressional district after defeating Republican Jerry Labriola, Jr., said the state’s Democrats faced a political environment dominated by anxiety about the economy. As Republicans regained control of the House with over 50 victories in races across the country, DeLauro, whose district includes New Haven, said she is determined to work with Republican colleagues to bring jobs back to Connecticut.
“Republicans will now be forced to show they can govern,” DeLauro said. “We need to work together in the next two years to address serious challenges.”
The one damper on the evening for Connecticut Democrats, other than the national results, was the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the gubernatorial race. As of press time, Republican Tom Foley of Greenwich led Democrat Dan Malloy by three percentage points, but traditional Democratic strongholds of Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford and New Haven had yet to report complete results.
The rest of the state’s delegation to Congress remained in Democratic hands as Republican Dan Debicella failed to unseat Rep. Jim Himes in the fourth district and Republican Sam Caligiuri was projected to have lost in the heavily Republican fifth district.
Meanwhile, Democrats retained the offices of secretary of the state, attorney general, treasurer and comptroller. Democrat Kevin Lembo, the state’s healthcare advocate, defeated former fashion executive Jack Orchulli in the race for comptroller. Lembo is replacing Nancy Wyman, who ran as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
Treasurer Denise Nappier, the state’s only incumbent constitutional officer seeking reelection, defeated Republican challenger Jeff Wright, and Democrat Denise Merill defeated Jerry Farrell for secretary of the state.
But in the state legislature, Democrats did lose some of the seats they gained in 2008, and may lose their veto-proof majorities. In the past session, Democrats have had enough votes to override vetoes from Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell in both houses of the General Assembly.