Tom Scott hung back Monday as Len Suzio, the upset Republican winner of a special election in Democratic Meriden, took the oath Monday as a state senator. Scott, the manager of Suzio’s campaign, remains the self-styled outsider.
Scott, who clashed with plenty of Republicans as a GOP state senator and leader of an anti-income tax movement that surrounded the State Capitol in 1991 with more than 40,000 protesters, is wary of a GOP establishment that now praises him.
Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, saluted Scott for the campaign he mapped out for Suzio, who won a Democratic seat with what Scott calls a coalition of GOP regulars, Tea Party activists and “values voters.”
Scott said the GOP’s political operation in the Senate should have had the daring and vision to capture all three Senate vacancies filled last week, not just the one created by the resignation of Thomas P. Gaffey in the 13th Senate District.
“There should’ve been 16 Republican senators up here,” Scott said.
Suzio’s win gives the Republicans 14 seats in the 36-seat chamber, the GOP’s best showing in six years
McKinney said each of the races had their own personalities and issues.
“I thought we had a chance to win all three races. I thought we had a chance to lose all three races,” he said.
In New Britain, Republican Mayor Tim Stewart ran for the vacant 6th Senate District seat without input from Hartford, at his request. In Stamford, the caucus and party extensively helped the nominee, Bob Kolenberg.
McKinney said it was unclear how the party could have done more from Hartford.
Suzio filled the Senate chamber Monday with more than 100 friends, family and supporters for his swearing in by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. Theresa Gerratana and Carlo Leone, the two Democrats who won last week, took their oaths Friday.
“I owe this victory to you,” said Suzio, a longtime member of the Board of Education who was the Republican nominee against Gaffey last fall. “It’s our victory together.”
He called Scott, a friend for more than 20 years, a “critical component” of his success. Suzio was one of the tax protesters outside the Capitol in 1991.
Scott said he helped bring in some Tea Party activists into the campaign, reaching out to a movement whose members sometimes shy away from campaigns. “Their philosophy and values I share,” Suzio said.
Suzio won with 58 percent of the vote in a district that had not gone Democratic in 36 years, running against the budget proposed the previous week by the new Democratic governor, Dannel P. Malloy.
Suzio said he believes that Connecticut’s budget crisis can be resolved without a tax increase, much less the $1.5 billion in new taxes proposed by Malloy.
Scott, whose state legislative career ended after he unsuccessfully opposed Rosa L. DeLauro in 1990 for the open seat in the 3rd Congressional District, played a role in two of three campaigns won by fresman Republicans. He helped his friend in the anti-tax movement, Joe Markley, win in November.
Scott, a former talk-show host who sells real estate for a living, suggested Monday that he agreed to run Suzio’s campaign as a favor to an old friend, not as the first step in ratcheting up his political involvement. But Markley said that is a continuing discussion.
“I am dedicated to ensuring his continued involvement,” Markley said. “I feel the time is right, and he has been missed.”