On the eve of his 79th birthday, former state Sen. Edwin A. Gomes, D-Bridgeport, regained his seat in a special election Tuesday night, scoring a national first for the Working Families Party.
Gomes, who was denied the Democratic nomination on a controversial tie-breaking vote at a convention, easily won a five-way race as the Working Families nominee.
Party officials said he is the first legislative candidate to win solely as the nominee of the minor party, which typically cross-endorses Democrats supportive of its pro-labor agenda.
“The fact I wound up on their line was just a series of events that put me on that,” Gomes said. “I’m also proud to be on it. When Working Families were first looking to form in Connecticut, I was a part of that.”
Gomes will succeed Andres Ayala, who defeated him in a Democratic primary in 2012. Ayala won re-election in November, but resigned to become the commissioner of motor vehicles.
Unofficial results showed Gomes nearly capturing 50 percent of the vote, despite the crowded field, according to his campaign. Only In Bridgeport reported Gomes with 1,504 votes to 1,042 for Democrat Richard DeJesus. A petitioning candidate, Kenneth H. Moales, was third with 603 votes.
“That I believe in the dictionary would be called an ass kicking,” said Tom Swan, the executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, who worked on Gomes’ campaign.
In two other special elections Tuesday, Democrat Steven Stafstrom of Bridgeport won in the 129th House District and Republican Stephen Harding of Brookfield won in the 107th House District, according to media reports.
Stafstrom succeeds Auden Grogins, a Democrat who resigned to become a Superior Court judge. Harding succeeds David Scribner, a Republican who resigned to become a liquor control commissioner.
The Connecticut Post reported Stafstrom winning by 56 votes, but that his main rival, Republican Enrique Torres, had conceded. Among the three petitioning candidates for the seat were two former Democratic representatives, Robert T. Keeley and Hector Diaz.
Harding’s win was expected in the heavily Republican district, which once was represented by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
“Tonight was another good night for the Democratic Party. With these results we add two more Democratic voices to the General Assembly from Bridgeport,” said Nick Balletto, the Democratic state chairman. “I know Steve Stafstrom and Ed Gomes will represent their constituents well in Hartford.”
It is widely assumed that Gomes will be a member of the Democratic majority, despite his win as a minor-party candidate. Gomes declined to comment when asked if he had spoken yet with Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven.
With Gomes in their caucus, Democrats would have a 21-14 majority in the Senate.
Swan said the easy win for Gomes was a big loss for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, a Democrat whom Swan says was “pushing for anybody but Ed.”
Gomes laughed when asked about Swan’s assertion.
“I haven’t said that. Whoever wants to term it that way will have to speak on that,” Gomes said. “We had a tremendous amount of people who came from all over the city.”
Gomes is a retired union official who first won the seat in a special election in 2005, succeeding Ernest Newton, who later went to prison on a corruption conviction. Newton lost a three-way primary for the seat in 2012.
In the Senate, he will be reunited with Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, a former aide who won a Democratic primary last year.