Democrats make solid gains in General Assembly

The Connecticut State Senate chamber in Hartford.

Updated at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Democrats made their first state legislative gains in 10 years Tuesday night, breaking an 18-18 tie in the Senate by picking up at least four Republican seats and defending vulnerable Democratic lawmakers who were targeted by the GOP. House Democrats appeared to have a net gain of nine seats, with eight unresolved races.

Other Democratic gains in the Senate were possible, with two races too close to call. Both of those seats are held by Republicans, but Democrats are leading with all the votes counted. Recounts are expected.

“Tonight was a big night for Democrats in the state Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven. “Our candidates presented a vision for our state that represented Connecticut’s best values.”

House Democrats, who began the night an 80-71 advantage, won at least 92, with the GOP capturing 58 and one race under review, Republican Noreen Kokoruda of Madison.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin won by just 37 votes, which is less than one-third of a percentage point.

Senate Republicans who lost include Scott Frantz of Greenwich, Toni Boucher of Wilton, Len Suzio of Meriden, and Michael McLachlan of Danbury. Republican Rob Sampson of Wolcott won the seat being vacated by Joe Markley, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor.

Boucher, who won the seat 10 years ago after six terms in the House, was defeated by 22-year-old Will Haskell, a recent Georgetown University graduate. Read about that race here.

McLachlan, who has represented the Danbury area since 2009, was unseated by Julie Kushner, the former director of UAW Region 9. Read about her here.

Clarice Silber / CTMirror.org

Democrat Will Haskell, 22, knocking on doors in Westport during his campaign.

Suzio, one of the state Senate’s most conservative members, was unseated by Mary Daugherty Abrams, a former teacher and the wife of a former House member.

Democrats were able to fend off Republican efforts to pick up the senate seat for the Milford and Orange region that was vacated by Democrat Sen. Gayle Slossberg.

In the House, Democrats defeated at least nine incumbents: Robert Siegrist of Essex was unseated by Christine Palm; Fred Wilms of Norwalk lost to Lucy Dathan; Scott Storms of Windsor Locks was defeated by Jane M. Garibay; Greg Stokes of Enfield was unseated by Tom Arnone; Sam Belsito of Tolland lost to Pat Wilson Pheanious; William Duff of Newtown was defeated by Raghib Allie-Brennan; Michael S. Ferguson of Danbury lost to Kenneth Gucker; Adam Dunsby of Easton was unseated by Anne Hughes; Mike Bocchino lost to Steve Meskers.

House Democrats also flipped one seat that was vacated after a Republican left office. That race ended with Jason Doucette picking up Mark Tweedie’s seat.

House Republicans won back one seat that they lost in a special election after a long-time Republican representative left to become the mayor of Stratford. That seat was picked up by Republican Philip Young. They also were able to pick up a longtime Democrat seat after Rep. Danny Rovero of Killingly retired.

Republicans failed in their efforts to unseat several Democratic incumbents they deemed vulnerable: Michelle Cook of Torrington, Catherine Abercrombie of Meriden, and Pat Boyd of Pomfret.

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About Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline won two first prizes from the Education Writers Association for her work in 2012 – one in beat reporting for her overall education coverage, and the other in investigative reporting on a series of stories revealing questionable monetary and personnel actions taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. In 2016, she was a finalist in the EWA competition for single-topic coverage for her reporting on how schools are funded in Connecticut. Before coming to The Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for Southern Maryland Newspapers. She has also worked for Congressional Quarterly and the Toledo Free Press. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College. She and her husband, two sons and two dogs live in Hartford.

About Jake Kara

Jake is a former managing editor of The Ridgefield Press, a Hersam Acorn newspaper. He worked for the community newspaper chain as a reporter and editor for five years before joining the Mirror staff. He studied professional writing at Western Connecticut State University and is a graduate student in software engineering at Harvard Extension School.

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