Winners of three special elections take office in Hartford

Edwin A. Gomes takes the  oath from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. From left, Sens. Marilyn Moore, Martin Looney and Bob Duff.

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Edwin A. Gomes takes the oath from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. From left, Sens. Marilyn Moore, Martin Looney and Bob Duff.

The General Assembly returned to full strength Friday as the winners of three special elections took their seats, giving Democrats majorities of 21-15 in the Senate and 87-64 in the House.

Sen. Edwin A. Gomes of Bridgeport, a Democrat who was elected Tuesday as a candidate of the Working Families Party, resisted a tongue-in-cheek invitation to join the GOP caucus.

Gomes, 79, a retired union official who lost the seat in 2012, is returning as the co-chairman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Even before taking the oath, he sat in on the Senate Democrats’ first budget caucus.

The two new House members are Reps. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, and Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield.

Stafstrom, 32, a lawyer at Pullman & Comley, was sworn in by Judge Auden Grogins, whom he is succeeding. Grogins resigned her House seat to accept an appointment to the Superior Court.

Harding, 27, a lawyer in the law office of Dean L. Lewis in Danbury, took the oath on his grandparents’ Bible. He succeeded David Scribner, who resigned to take a seat on the Liquor Control Commission.

It was an eventful route back to Hartford for Gomes, who was originally elected in a special election in 2005, then lost a three-way Democratic primary in 2012.

This year, Gomes lost the Democratic endorsement on a controversial tie-breaking vote by the chairman of a nominating convention. The Working Families Party endorsed him, and Gomes handily won a five-way race backed by a coalition of labor and community activists.

“I’m not going to say a whole lot, but I want to tell you this: Ed Gomes has had a whole lot of good people do a lot of good things for him,” Gomes said after taking the oath. “And I intend to repay you.”

He was greeted by the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, who all praised him as a plainspoken voice of working-class voters.

“Ed Gomes has been that voice throughout his career,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.

“It’s great to see Ed back here, because he always brings that working person’s voice, the reality the Senate needs at some times,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven.

“Senator, your nameplate will be here very soon,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, “They are just dusting it off from the last time.”

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