Courtesy of Michelle Lee

Members of the new Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus unanimously re-elected state Sens. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, to serve as president pro tempore and senate majority leader for the 2019 legislative calendar.

The Democrats made significant gains in the Connecticut Senate following Tuesday’s elections — winning at least 23 of the 36 seats in the legislative body and giving the party a commanding majority after two years of evenly split representation. Both the president pro tempore — the leader of the Senate — and the senate majority leader were chosen at a Thursday afternoon caucus meeting, which was held in Hartford.

In statements, both Duff and Looney expressed excitement for the upcoming legislative session.

“The Senate Democratic Caucus not only boasts racial, gender, and geographic diversity, but is also diverse in practical experience, with innovative business leaders joining a caucus that has consistently championed progressive legislation,” Looney said in a statement.

For the past two years, Democrats and Republicans both have sent 18 senators to the state’s capital. As a result, the legislative session had two leaders — Looney and Republican Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven. Last year, the Connecticut General Assembly was slow to move on legislation, exemplified by the 123-day period in which the state did not have a budget.

On Tuesday, several state Democrats defeated their Republican competitors — including Matt Lesser, D-Middletown; Christine Cohen, D-Branford; Mary Abrams, D-Meriden; James Maroney ’96, D-Milford; and Joan Hartley, D-Middlebury — making Looney the only Senate president this term.

“I am once again honored and humbled by the faith and support of the Senate Democratic Caucus,” Looney said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis with my friend, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano.”

According to the CT Mirror, on Thursday, the Connecticut Senate Republicans also caucused and elected Fasano to take the reins as senate minority leader. The House GOP met Wednesday to endorse Seymour native Themis Klarides, R-Orange, as house minority leader.

Adam Joseph, the Senate Democrats’ communications officer, told the News that Looney has served as the Senate’s president pro tempore since 2015. Before that, Looney served as the senate majority leader from 2003 to 2014 and has been a member of the state Senate since 1993. Looney has been a progressive force at the Capitol, recently proposing bills for paid family and medical leave, a higher minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana.

In a statement, Duff said he was “honored” to lead the Senate once again, adding that he looks forward to working with his colleagues to “grow jobs, support innovation and protect middle class families.”

Duff, who represents Norwalk and parts of Darien, first stepped into the position of Senate majority  leader in 2015 but has served in the state Senate since 2001. As a legislator, Duff has focused on job creation in Connecticut and supporting bills that offer protection for electricity consumers.

In Tuesday’s elections the Democratic party also had significant wins in other parts of state government, including an increase in representation in the state House of Representatives and the election of Democratic governor and cable entrepreneur Ned Lamont SOM ’80.

The Democratic party will send at least 10 more representatives to the 151-member Connecticut House of Representatives this next term. Lamont, who won a close race against Republican gubernatorial candidate and business executive Bob Stefanowski, said he is looking forward to working with his colleagues in the state General Assembly.

“Congratulations to Speaker Aresimowicz, Senate Maj. Leader Duff, House Maj. Leader Ritter, Senate Min. Leader Fasano & House Min. Leader Klarides on being selected to lead our legislature again,” Lamont tweeted Thursday. “I look forward to working together to solve our state’s biggest challenges.”

Members of the Connecticut State Senate serve two-year terms.

Aakshi Chaba | aakshi.chaba@yale.edu .