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Ryan wins 15th term representing 139th District

State Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, defeated Republican challenger Caleb Espinosa 5,681 votes (54.5%) to 4,745 (45.5%), with a small amount of absentee ballots still to be counted in Norwich.

Before the bulk of Norwich absentee ballots were reported late Tuesday night, Ryan held a razor-thin margin over Espinosa. But once most absentee votes were counted, Ryan pulled ahead.

Ryan, 68, has been a state representative for longer than Espinosa, 20, has been alive. Espinosa argued throughout the campaign that state representative is not meant to be a lifelong position. But Ryan ran on reputation and name recognition, enjoying the fruits of a strong base of supporters in Montville, Norwich and Bozrah.

"We have a lot of anxiety. We don't know the official results, as votes still have to be counted," Espinosa said before absentee ballots had been counted Tuesday night. "It's close."

Espinosa campaign consultant Kevin Skulcyzck weighed in on Wednesday.

"We ran a great race, and the voters spoke," he said. "Caleb will be starting his campaign for 2022 today."

Ryan could not be reached for comment. 

While Espinosa called himself “libertarian on social issues and conservative on fiscal issues,” Ryan characterized himself as a moderate Democrat.

The two candidates publicly differed on the police accountability bill passed this year. Espinosa criticized Ryan for his support of the bill. Espinosa said the law is leading some qualified candidates to reconsider careers in law enforcement.

Ryan said though the bill isn’t perfect, it does include meaningful reforms.

Espinosa and Ryan have similar positions on gun control issues, online gambling and state spending. They disagreed on the minimum wage, which Espinosa said could negatively affect businesses if raised to $15.

Espinosa's great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1949. As soon as his great-grandfather arrived in Miami, Espinosa said, he took the next flight to New London, where he bought a house on Broad Street. Shortly thereafter, he bought a house in Montville. In 1965, Espinosa’s grandparents and the rest of his family also moved to the area, and they’ve been in Montville since.

Espinosa graduated from New London High School and works as an automotive technician. He enlisted in the Connecticut Army National Guard in 2018 and is a volunteer firefighter.

Ryan is an adjunct physics professor at the University of New Haven. He graduated from Villanova University in 1974 with bachelor’s degrees in biology and English. He earned a master’s degree in community psychology from the University of New Haven and a doctor of optometry degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry. In the General Assembly, he has served as a deputy speaker since 2011, and is a member of the Public Health, Environment and Appropriations committees.

s.spinella@theday.com

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