What will the election mean for state Senate Republicans?
The outcome of Tuesday night's races brought Connecticut Democrats from a tie in the state Senate to a decisive majority, with Democrats nabbing 24 of the 36 seats, per unofficial numbers from the Connecticut Secretary of the State's Office.
Some Democrats proffered bipartisan messages on Wednesday, though it remains to be seen how the new Senate majority will play out in bills and budget votes.
"Just leave the labels at the door," Democratic Governor-elect Ned Lamont said in a news conference Wednesday. "I want labor there, I want business leaders there, I want Democrats there, I want Republicans there."
He added that he talked to Republican leaders as well as Democratic ones on Wednesday, "and said my door is open, and any good idea, let's go with it. I'm going to share the credit where I can; I'll take the heat for the tough decisions."
Lamont didn't claim the results of the close election — the Associated Press had him with 49 percent of the vote to Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski's 47 percent, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, Wednesday night — as a mandate on the Democratic agenda but as one to "get this state working again."
"A mandate, I think, is to bring real, fundamental change," he said. "To tell you the truth, maybe Bob and I both had that message. We're both outsiders, we're not insiders, not part of the political process."
Locally, state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who won re-election to her 19th District seat Tuesday, told The Day that she always has worked with people on both sides of the aisle, even before the Senate was tied — and she doesn't plan on changing that.
Osten has served as co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, along with Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, and Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven. Osten said that while it's not her decision, she will be asking to remain chair of that committee.
Commenting that Osten "works very hard" and is "very knowledgeable on the budget," Formica expects Osten to be back as chair.
With Democrats now in control of the Senate, each joint committee will go from having one Democratic senator, one Republican senator and one Democratic representative as co-chairs to just one Democratic senator and one Democratic representative.
While the role of ranking member would not carry as much weight for Formica, who also won re-election Tuesday in the 20th District, he remains hopeful. "I'm just hopeful that the majority party now realizes the importance of listening and acting on some ideas that they may not be totally in favor of," he said, "and to get that budget with no tax increase and no tolls."
He is hopeful that bipartisanship and pathways built over the past two years can continue. Two examples he gave were the bipartisan tourism caucus, which he co-chaired with Democratic Rep. Diana Urban, and creating the volatility cap.
Referring to those who voted straight Democrat on their ballots because of the "Trump factor," Formica said it seems that Connecticut Republicans "were undone by one ideology."
The campaign of Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, took a more personal approach in its reflection, highlighting that "amid an otherwise dismal night for Connecticut Republicans, Senator Heather Somers won a convincing victory in a quintessential swing district."
The 18th District includes 14,603 registered Republicans and 20,109 registered Democrats, according to a spreadsheet attached to the news release. The spreadsheet showed that Somers' district has more of a Democratic registration advantage than three districts where incumbent Republicans lost.
According to unofficial results posted on the state secretary of the state's website, incumbent Republican senators to lose their seats to Democrats were L. Scott Frantz, Toni Boucher, Michael McLachlan, Len Suzio and George Logan.
The 33rd Senate District seat currently is held by Republican Art Linares, but Democrat Norm Needleman defeated Republican Rep. Melissa Ziobron in the open race. It was still too close to call Tuesday night, but Ziobron conceded midday Wednesday.
"I am willing to work with anyone, regardless of the political makeup of the Senate, who wants to help solve the economic problems and the budget problems that face the state," Needleman said in a voicemail Wednesday.
He added that this will "be a time of shared sacrifice and as much joint effort as we can get."
Somers could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the changing Senate dynamics.
Somers said in the news release, "I spent my first term in office focused on delivering results for eastern Connecticut and challenging the status quo in Hartford. The accomplishments, efforts and forward-looking priorities that stemmed from that focus provided the natural bedrock of a winning re-election message."
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