No leadership challenges seen in new General Assembly

Kyle Constable / CTMirror.org

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, left, and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney. (file photo)

The Senate Democratic caucus unanimously voted Thursday to retain the leadership team of Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney of New Haven and Bob Duff of Norwalk as Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven declined to pursue Duff’s post.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin has the backing of his caucus for a second and final term as speaker in January — if he can survive a recount. Unofficial results have him winning his seat by only 37 votes.

Barring a failure by Aresimowicz to win re-election, it appears the Connecticut General Assembly will open its 2019 session in January with the same leaders of all four legislative caucuses.

Winfield had been making calls exploring a challenge to Duff, but he did not seek a vote.

“We have a nice supermajority. Let’s start it off well,” Winfield said.

Looney said he was “honored and humbled” by the support of his caucus.

“We have a caucus that is fully representative of Connecticut. The Senate Democratic caucus not only boasts racial, gender, and geographic diversity, but is also diverse in practical experience, with innovative business leaders joining a caucus that has consistently championed progressive legislation. I look forward to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis with my friend, Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano.”

Fasano, a Republican of North Haven, will see his title change to Senate minority leader, as Democrats made a net gain of at least five seats Tuesday, turning an 18-18 tie in that chamber into at least a 23-13  advantage. Depending on an expected recount, Democrats could end up with 24 seats.

Sen. George Logan, R-Ansonia, appeared to lose in results tabulated Wednesday, giving Democrats 24 seats. But amended results Thursday now show him winning, 18,513 to 18,448 — a plurality of 65 votes. A Democratic spokesman said Jorge Cabrera, his challenger, has retained an elections lawyer.

Chuck Pyne, the manager of Logan’s campaign, said a math error was responsible for the shift in leads.

“Towns have to load in numbers to town clerks or registrar of voters and in one town’s case there were some key errors, and numbers didn’t get picked up before hitting send,” Pyne said.

The Senate GOP caucus met Thursday.

After the loss of so many seats, Fasano said of his caucus, “If they want to make a change they are certainly entitled to make a change. I told them, ‘Only vote for me if you have confidence in me.”

Fasano said they viewed the losses as the result of a blue wave kicked up in opposition to President Donald J. Trump, whom Fasano declined to endorse in 2016.

“They looked at it as a Trump issue,” he said. “There’s not much anybody could have done about it.”

House GOP members met Wednesday to endorse another term for Themis Klarides of Derby as Republican minority leader.

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About Mark Pazniokas

Mark, a winner of numerous journalist awards, is the former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and a former contributing writer for The New York Times. In more than 30 years as a reporter, he has covered some of the most compelling stories in the state, including the impeachment inquiry and resignation of Gov. John G. Rowland in 2004 and the nationally watched Senate race won by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as an independent in 2006. Mark is a graduate of Boston University. E-mail him at mpazniokas@ctmirror.org.

About Clarice Silber

Clarice Silber joined The Mirror as General Assignment Reporter in November 2017. She formerly worked for The Associated Press in Phoenix as a legislative and general assignment reporter. In 2016, she conducted extensive interviews and research in Portuguese and Spanish for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative team at McClatchy, which was the only U.S. newspaper to gain initial access to the Panama Papers. She is a Rio de Janeiro native and graduated from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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