Riley wins re-election in 46th House District

Norwich — Two-term Democrat Emmett Riley won re-election in a three-way race for the 46th House District seat that covers the urban and southern sections of Norwich.

Totals from the three voting precincts show Riley with 3,274 votes to Republican challenger Rob Dempsky's 2,457 and petitioning candidate Bonnie Hong's 565 votes. Election results do not include absentee ballots or Election Day registration ballots.

The race was dominated by talk of the state budget crisis and where and how the legislature should seek to cut spending or raise revenues.

Riley, 47, said the results did not surprise him and mirrored the support he heard in extensive door-to-door campaigning. He said the small, urban district where he grew up was an advantage for him.

"I know a lot of people here," Riley said. "These are my friends, my neighbors. I grew up here, and I want to represent them well in Hartford."

Riley carried the traditionally heavily Democratic district, where the number of unaffiliated voters topped the number of registered Democrats in recent years. Republican registrations still lag well behind.

Dempsky, 41, a poker dealer at the Mohegan Sun Casino, remained confident throughout the race that his message to cut spending and not raise taxes would ring true for frustrated voters. But he was disappointed he was not able to "move the needle" from his similar loss to Riley in 2014.

Hong, 69, a retired medical office manager and petitioning candidate said her position at the far bottom of the crowded ballot hurt her chances. Hong, a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders' unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, returned to politics after a 30-year break. Hong had served one term as City Council president and another term on the City Council in the 1980s.

Hong thanked her supporters and said she felt she won based on her ability to galvanize many supporters who had never been involved in politics before.

c.bessette@theday.com

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