While most journalists and political junkies had their eyes on Washington for President Trump’s address to Congress, Democrats were having a pretty good night in Connecticut, winning two out of three legislative special elections held that day:
In three special elections Tuesday night, Connecticut voters did nothing to shift the balance of power in the evenly split Senate or closely divided House, despite furious efforts to make one race a referendum on President Trump and another on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Democrat Dorinda Borer easily defeated Republican Edward R. Granfield in the 115th House District of West Haven to succeed Stephen D. Dargan, a Democrat who resigned to accept a post on the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Borer’s victory only briefly restored Democrats to the 79-72 House majority they won on Nov. 8, since Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, and Rep. Eric Berthel, R-Watertown, now will resign after winning Senate seats in the 2nd District of greater Hartford and 32nd District outside Waterbury.
With the ability of Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to break tie votes in the 18-18 Senate, Connecticut remains one of just a half-dozen states with a Democratic governor and state legislature.
In the 32nd Senate District, Berthel won comfortably over Democrat Greg Cava of Roxbury in a race that Democratic activists worked with some success to nationalize as a referendum on Trump: In the most Republican Senate district in the state, Cava lost by 10 percentage points, which Democrats say is their best showing there in decades.
After losing three Senate seats and eight House seats in November, despite Hillary Clinton’s carrying the state over Trump, Democrats were ready to celebrate the results of the special elections Tuesday as harbingers of better things to come in 2018.
These are the latest in a series of state legislative victories for Democrats since last November’s elections, having won (or defended) seats in special elections in Iowa, Virginia and Delaware. Reaction from Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post:
“Congratulations to Rep.-elect Borer and Sen.-elect McCrory on their successes in today’s elections,” said Post. “These talented candidates with strong commitments to public service have brought the list of Democratic electoral victories to five in the scant six weeks Trump has been in the White House. DLCC is thrilled by these latest victories, which are just the latest expression of Democrats’ level of energy and engagement as voters reject Trump’s GOP and fight Republicans’ extreme and bigoted agenda on all fronts.”