Grant Richardson ’19 and Jordan Grode ’21 — both Republicans who ran for positions in the Connecticut House of Representatives — lost their races to incumbents, garnering 6 and 11 percent of the vote, respectively.
Richardson faced 17-year incumbent state Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, in the 93rd District, while Grode came up against four-year incumbent Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, in the 94th.
Although Yale makes up only a part of the 93rd District, Richardson said he waited until September to start campaigning because he wanted students to return from break before he began. The district encompasses Ezra Stiles, Morse, Davenport and Pierson Colleges, as well as many off-campus student housing complexes, but also includes parts of the Beaver Hills and Amity neighborhoods as well as parts of Southern Connecticut State University.
“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Toni Walker on her victory. I wish her the best of luck as she works to tackle the many important issues facing Connecticut today,” Richardson told the News. “Overall, I’m pleased with the campaign. We improved upon the previous Republican’s showing in this district by 15 percent, and I’m happy to bring attention to the important issues affecting Connecticut. I’m proud to say that numerous Democrats told me I was the first Republican for whom they had ever voted.”
While Richardson said that he did not vote for Trump and that “Washington is a mess,” he noted that New Haven was in a “unique position” given its economic difficulties.
“Even though maybe the national environment is more of a head wind against Republicans, in the state of Connecticut, however, because the Democrats have been in power there is more willingness to look to another party or alternatives,” Richardson told the News in September.
Richardson said that as a representative he wanted to create jobs, improve Yale-New Haven relations, lower the corporate income tax and fight against partisan gerrymandering, among other issues.
The House seat that Walker — Richardson’s opponent — holds has been under Democratic control for over 25 years. In 2016, her seat was contested by a Republican, Douglas Losty. But Losty could not make a significant impact in the polls, as Walker received more than 90 percent of the vote. Walker could not be reached for comment.
Grode was running in a district that has not seen a Republican candidate since 2014 — when Republican candidate Reynaud Harp received just 4.7 percent of the vote in a special election against Porter.
The 94th District encompasses Berkeley, Hopper, Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges, as well as the neighborhoods of Newhallville and Prospect Hill.
“I congratulate Robyn on her victory and I hope she enjoys great success in Hartford,” Grode said in a press release on Nov. 6. “Although the election did not go in my favor, I am proud of my campaign and grateful for the support of our neighbors who donated their time and money for a cause they hold dear: a more prosperous, safer New Haven and Hamden.”
For his part, Grode announced his campaign in April, promising to roll back wasteful regulations and reform Connecticut’s retirement system.
He told the News in April that the current state employee pension program was structured to shift costs onto the younger generation, which is underrepresented in the state legislature.
“I think one of the biggest problems facing our state right now is budgetary short-termism — that is, politicians kicking the can down the road, making short-term deals for political gain that have very long-term costs and consequences,” he told the News in April. “If we want to rectify the problems that legislatures today are creating for tomorrow, we need to have representatives who will be there tomorrow and who aren’t just thinking about the next two years … but on the long term, the 30- or 40-year horizons, since we’ll be the ones paying for it.”
Ryley Constable ’21 — who was a part of Grode’s campaign committee until May when he left due to time constraints — told the News that Grode had always been facing an uphill battle. In the run-up to the election, Constable said that Grode’s chances “[weren’t] great,” noting that historically, the Green Party has done better in the 94th District than the Republicans.
However, in his press release Grode said that he was proud to have offered the members of the 94th District a chance to safeguard “our democratic system against one-party rule.”
“District 94 has not seen a general election contest between two major party candidates since 2000,” he said. “I believe that voters deserve a choice; to have only one option on the ballot is to have an illusory choice at best, really no choice at all. If our Republican form of government is to endure, political decisions must be made in the open air and bright light of day, not behind the closed doors of either party’s caucus. In my view, having made this election the most contested in decades is itself a victory.”
If Grode had been elected, he would have been the youngest person ever elected to the Connecticut House, at 19 years old.
Skakel McCooey | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Nov. 9: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Richardson and Grode received 11 and 6 percent of the vote, respectively. In fact, it is the other way around. Richardson received 6 percent of the vote while Grode won 11 percent.