HARTFORD — Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, the senior senator from Connecticut, was re-elected Tuesday night, defeating Republican opponent Dan Carter with 61 percent of the vote as of 1 a.m.
Blumenthal, the state’s former attorney general, ran for his first re-election against Carter, who served three terms in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Less than two minutes after polls closed in Connecticut, AP projected Blumenthal as the winner of the election. Applause and cheers from the nearly 70 attendees filled the ballroom at the Hilton Hartford Hotel at around 8:25 p.m., when CNN confirmed Blumenthal’s re-election.
“My hope for this Congress and for the next president is that we will come together, that we will build those bridges where there have been divisions and that we will address conflict that practically enveloped this country,” Blumenthal said in his acceptance speech. “We can come together across the aisle dissolving our partisan differences. We can come together across all the lines that threaten to divide us, and I will work tirelessly and relentlessly to build those bridges.”
In June, incumbent Blumenthal boasted a 60 percent approval rating, and consistently polled 20 or more points ahead of his opponent. He swept a large majority of precincts, and won New Haven with 87 percent of the vote. By the time of his acceptance speech, over a hundred Connecticut Democrats and Blumenthal supporters filled the ballroom, cheering the senator and those who will continue to govern alongside him.
Prior to Blumenthal’s acceptance speech, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman introduced Gov. Dannel Malloy, who praised Blumenthal as a strong leader for Connecticut.
“We should be proud of our great friend and leader,” Malloy told the crowd.
CT Attorney General George Jepsen also spoke, calling Blumenthal an “incredible national spokesperson” on issues important to Democrats and praising his work with veterans and on labor growth.
At 9:15 p.m., the junior senator from Connecticut Chris Murphy took the stage to celebrate his fellow senator’s victory, praising Blumenthal’s work on gun control and consumer protection. He spoke to a generation of Connecticut politicians who were inspired by Blumenthal’s earlier work as attorney general of Connecticut from 1991 to 2011. Blumenthal has fought public battles — against tobacco companies, for example — and behind-the-scenes battles, as well as prevented numerous “bad thing[s]” from happening by “just thinking about what the right thing to do is,” Murphy added.
“All that matters is to do what’s right by the average guy,” Murphy said of Blumenthal’s approach to governing.
Blumenthal, along with his wife Cynthia Malkin, took the stage at 9:20 p.m. to thank his supporters and praise the “joy and pride” of Connecticut voters on Election Day. He then pivoted his acceptance speech to matters of policy, discussing affordable education, investment in infrastructure and women’s health care. He emphasized that abortion should be made “safe, legal and rare.”
Blumenthal added that on no issue has the relationship between him and Murphy been stronger than that of gun control. Both senators have taken strong positions on tightening regulations for gun ownership, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, which took place in 2012, shortly after Murphy was elected to office.
Blumenthal concluded his speech with a strong stance toward immigration reform, recounting how the U.S. helped his father — who immigrated to America from Germany in 1935 — achieve success.
“We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of tremendous diversity, and we are the greatest nation in the world because we build bridges, not walls,” Blumenthal told a cheering crowd.
Still, both senators know they face a divided government upon returning to Washington, D.C. Election results from across the nation were posted on a large screen in the ballroom, and collective cheers or gasps rippled through the audience as various states were called for either Clinton or Trump throughout the night.
In an interview with the News, Murphy said it was hard to know exactly how the next years in the Senate will differ from Blumenthal’s previous term, given that at the time the presidential race had not been called. Murphy added that Republicans would likely maintain control of the House, and it was unclear whether Democrats would regain the Senate.
“We are going to have divided government, and we need to find a way to bride the gaps, and coming off of this very nasty, vitriolic election, that’s not going to be easy,” Murphy said. “In the [Connecticut] state capital, they have their fights but they tend to figure them out and bridge the gaps. In Connecticut, the difference between Republicans and Democrats is not as great as it is on a national level.”
Malloy echoed Murphy’s sentiments that Connecticut politics are less divisive than those on a national scale.
“As tough as we sometimes think things get in Connecticut, they never get as bad as they are in Washington,” Malloy told the News.
Blumenthal told the News that part of the reason for “cynicism and distrust” in Washington is that lawmakers often prioritize special interest groups. His role — before and in the future — is to “stand up” to special interest groups, and put the people of Connecticut first.
In doing so, Blumenthal said his focus will be on veterans’ health care, equal pay for equal work and helping consumers “who were ripped off.” He added that he believes in a strong national defense, and in strengthening Connecticut’s infrastructure. Connecting his “passion” for college affordability with his support of strong immigration reform, Blumenthal said enabling students to pursue higher education in the U.S. and remain in the country after graduating is important.
“These priorities are going to continue to be my priorities, but I am going to continue to reach across the aisle, as I have tried to do, because those goals ought to be shared,” Blumenthal said.