After a long, suspenseful night; injunction appeals over registering voters past deadlines; and hairdryers being used to dry ballots, Democrats emerged victorious in every statewide race in Connecticut’s Tuesday elections.
Most notably, Democratic gubernatorial nominee and televideo entrepreneur Ned Lamont SOM ’80 defeated Republican nominee and former UBS executive Bob Stefanowski in a tight race that did not come to a definitive result until Wednesday morning. Democratic candidates also won in the race for Connecticut’s junior seat in the U.S. Senate, all five other congressional races, and the races for secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer and attorney general. In the Connecticut General Assembly, the Democrats also garnered decisive majorities. Though some races were still reporting results Wednesday night, the Democrats are poised to win 24 of 36 seats in the state senate and 92 of 151 seats in the state house of representatives.
“I’m with you. I’m with Connecticut,” Lamont said in his victory speech in Hartford on Wednesday afternoon. “I love this state. That’s why I’m so proud to be your governor, and we’re gonna get this state moving again.”
Stefanowski conceded the gubernatorial race around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Early morning election results from several major cities, including Bridgeport and Hartford, gave Lamont a significant boost — turning the tide in a race that had seen Stefanowski on top for most of the night. Lamont emerged victorious by around 1.7 points, or about 24,000 votes out of a total of over 1.3 million with 95 percent of precincts reporting.
But New Haven, which saw voting times bogged down by high numbers of same-day registrations, had only reported vote totals from 20 percent of precincts as of Wednesday night. Elm City voters will likely increase Lamont’s final lead, as current New Haven vote totals show that around 84 percent were in Lamont’s favor.
Results in other precincts were also slowed down after voters coming in from the rain got their ballots wet, prompting Secretary of State Denise Merrill to half-jokingly call upon poll workers to “get out your hairdryer.”
Once again, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate was carried to victory by Connecticut’s cities. In 2010, the current governor, Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, defeated Republican Tom Foley by roughly 6,000 votes after late totals from New Haven provided him with an 18,000 vote advantage. Similarly, Lamont trailed Stefanowski by as much as five points until the city results began rolling in.
Stefanowski released a statement after his Wednesday concession congratulating Lamont for the victory, thanking his family and supporters for their efforts and stressing the importance of lowering taxes — the issue that defined his campaign.
“While this is not the result we would have hoped for, I am glad that we were able to draw so much attention to the tax burden in this state,” Stefanowski said in the statement. “At the beginning of this race, we were laser-focused on cutting taxes, while other candidates were talking about raising taxes.”
The next few months will provide a clearer picture of what taxes — and other policies — Lamont plans to implement. As a candidate, Lamont repeatedly promised to lower property taxes for the middle class and institute tolls on out-of-state trucks.
In his victory speech, Lamont vowed that he would not raise the income tax and would also reduce property taxes over time — a promise reminiscent of Stefanowski’s anti-tax economic message.
While Lamont, Stefanowski and their supporters anxiously awaited results well into the morning, most of the state’s congressional delegation was able to call it an early night.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., won a second term by a margin of 59–40 percent over his Republican challenger Matthew Corey, a supporter of President Donald Trump and a Navy veteran. The victory was entirely expected — the seat was designated as safely Democratic by both Real Clear Politics and the Cook Political Report, two nonpartisan election analysis groups.
“[Thank you] to all of the other candidates who are running across the state, those who had the courage to put their names on the ballot,” Murphy said in his victory speech on Tuesday night. “A lot of them are new people — people who never envisioned running for office before. They put everything on the line this year because they knew the stakes were so high.”
Connecticut also easily kept its all-blue delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, winning all five of its house districts by at least 12 points. Four of the Democratic candidates — John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes — were popular incumbents. But the state’s 5th district was complicated by a surprise April 2 announcement from current U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Cheshire, that she would not seek re-election — an announcement she made after she was accused of covering up sexual misconduct allegations against her chief of staff.
Waterbury-born candidate and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes emerged as the favorite in the race after soundly defeating Mary Glassman in the Democratic primary.
The fifth district proved to be the most competitive congressional race of the night, but Hayes carried the vote handedly — besting her Republican opponent Manny Santos 56 to 44 percent. In December, Hayes will become Connecticut’s first black female member of the House of Representatives.
Several other states also experienced firsts. The 116th Congress will include the nation’s first two female Native American representatives, as well as the first two female Muslim members of the House, contributing a record-setting total of more than 100 women elected to Congress.
The wave of fresh faces extended to the Connecticut General Assembly, where several young Democrats managed to defeat multiterm incumbents to break the 18–18 tie in the state Senate in their favor. Though some of the results were still up in the air as of Wednesday night, five of the over two-dozen incumbents running likely lost their reelection bids — all of them Republicans.
The “blue wave” in the state House of Representatives, which gave Democrats a projected additional eleven seats, mirrored the national race. In races that had been called as of Wednesday night, Democrats nationwide picked up 27 seats in the U.S. House, giving them a 223–197 majority, with 15 seats undeclared at the time of press. Unlike in the state senate, however, Republicans flipped two seats in the U.S. Senate to claim a stronger majority, 51-46, with the results of three races still pending.
Local advocates, including those at Yale, were also excited about the prospect of a more Democratic state government — particularly in the context of legislative advocacy.
Looking ahead, Ananya Kumar-Banerjee ’21, communications director for the Yale College Democrats, said she is hopeful that given the greater Democratic majority in the state legislature, Equal Pay bills are more likely to be passed.
“There is definitely a lot of fear given what has been happening [nationally], but I think people are hopeful that there are changes in Connecticut being made to protect people that live here,” Kumar-Banerjee said.
Alicia Woodsby, executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, anticipates that the new administration will prioritize progress toward ending homelessness and promoting affordable housing options in light of Connecticut’s high cost of living. According to Woodsby, Lamont “aims to bring new business development to Connecticut and expand economic opportunity for families.”
Lamont will be Connecticut’s 89th governor.
Conor Johnson | firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathalie Bussemaker | email@example.com