With Democrats defending five open seats, Republicans have a chance to capture control of the Connecticut Senate tonight for the first time since 1994, when John G. Rowland won his first term as governor and the GOP captured a 19-17 majority.

The GOP could win the Senate, now controlled by a 22-14 Democratic majority, by capturing five Democratic seats. A GOP pickup of four seats  would produce an 18-18 tie to be broken by the lieutenant governor.

Winning four seats would give Republicans the Senate if the GOP ticket of Tom Foley and Heather Bond Somers also wins. In that case, Somers would break ties, presumably in favor of her fellow Republicans.

With a Democratic majority of 98-53, the House is not considered in play.

Here are 10 Senate races to watch.

The seven open seats

Ted Kennedy Jr. of Branford is making his electoral debut defending an open Democratic seat held by Sen. Ed Meyer of Guilford in the 12th District. Kennedy is opposed by Republican Bruce H. Wilson Jr. of Madison. Kennedy is accepting public financing, but Wilson has accused him of raising money for the Democratic Party that is flowing into the race.

In the 20th District, Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, is defending the open Democratic seat held by Sen. Andrea Stillman of Waterford. Ritter faces Paul M. Formica, the first selectman of East Lyme and a congressional candidate in 2012.

The 22nd District is an open seat since Sen. Anthony Musto of Trumbull lost a Democratic primary to Marilyn Moore of Bridgeport. She faces a tough race from Republican Enrico Constantini.

The 28th District seat, long held by John P. McKinney, the GOP Senate leader who lost a gubernatorial primary to Tom Foley, tilts Republican. But the race for the open seat pits two House members against each other: Democrat Kim Fawcett and Republican Tony Hwang, both of Fairfield.

The Democratic leader of the Senate, Donald Williams Jr. of Brooklyn, also is retiring. Fighting to succeed him in the 29th District, which includes the main University of Connecticut campus, are Rep. Mae Flexer, D-Danielson, and John French, a Republican school board member from Windham. Flexer has been targeted by gun owners opposed to the post-Newtown gun law.

Republican Jason Welch did not seek re-election in the 31s District, which is dominated by Bristol and was in Democratic hands until Welch’s victory over Tom Colapietro in 2010. Democrat Rob Michalik of Plainville, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, is facing Republican Henri Martin, a Bristol councilman.

The race for the remaining open seat is not considered competitive: Rep. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, is expected to win the 3rd District seat now held by the retiring Gary LeBeau. Larson, a former mayor and the brother of Congressman John B. Larson, faces Republican Sean Kelly of Ellington.

Three other races of note

The Democratic incumbent believed to be in the tightest race is Dante Bartolomeo, who is challenged by the Republican she unseated two years ago, Len Suzio. Both are from Meriden.

In the 33rd District, Democrats are hoping that Emily Bjornberg of Lyme can recapture what had been a Democratic seat until 2012, when Republican Art Linnares of Westbrook won a three-way race to succeed the retiring Eileen Daily of Westbrook. Colin Bennett of the Green Party also is running.

Sen. Andrew Maynard, D-Stonington, is expected to win re-election to a fifth term over Republican Kevin Trejo of Groton despite being unable to campaign since sustaining a traumatic brain injury in a fall at his home in July.

Avatar photo

Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

Leave a comment