Christine Stuart photo
Majority Leader Chris Donovan with Rep. Denise Merrill (Christine Stuart photo )

(Updated Thurs. 9 a.m.) Once the dust settled on the 2008 General Assembly races it looked like Democrats in the state House will hold a 114 to 37 majority over Republicans, while Democrats in the state Senate will hold a 24 to 12 majority over the Republicans.

The number of Democrats in the House jumped from 112 to 114 Wednesday when results from the 62nd House District were reported to the state. It looks like Democratic newcomer Annie Hornish beat Republican incumbent Richard Ferrari by almost 700 votes in the district that includes Granby, East Granby, and Barkhamsted.

The Secretary of the State’s office confirmed Wednesday that there were no automatic recounts triggered in any of the races once all the results were tabulated, however, final numbers weren’t due until 6 p.m.

Christine Stuart photo
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (Christine Stuart photo )

At the state Capitol Wednesday morning Democratic leaders talked about working together with the Republican minority to tackle the challenges the state faces, such as a looming budget deficit.

Later in the afternoon the Senate Republican caucus held a press conference where Republican Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Southport, warned Democrats that “just because you have the power does not mean you should exercise it.”

McKinney was referring to the two-thirds majority Democrats hold in both the House and the Senate, which would allow them to override a gubernatorial veto. In the Senate, Democrats hold a veto-proof majority by a slim margin of one vote, the same majority they held in 2006.

In 2006 Democrats only used their majority to override a bill that made small changes to the states Medicaid program. That same year, Democrats failed to override Rell’s veto of its proposed changes to the states income tax structure.

Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said Democrats will be reaching out Rell and the Republicans to tackle the difficult challenges that lie ahead.

He said he’s excited to have a partner in the White House.

State Rep. Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, who is expected to be anointed as the new majority leader Thursday said Connecticut benefited from what happened Tuesday. She said the party is excited to welcome nine new members to the House. She said she was also excited that at least three of the nine new members were under the age of 30 years old.

While the Democrats celebrated their victories Wednesday, Republicans wondered about the future of their party.

Sitting in the atrium on the third-floor of the Legislative Office Building, Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said Wednesday was the first day of another modern Republican movement. He said while many of the principles embraced by the GOP are timeless, it will have to evaluate how well it is communicating its message to the people.
The Republican party has always been the “Daddy party,” he said.

“We’re hired to win wars, kill the bad guys, not increase spending and cut taxes,” he said.

On the national stage this year, “we couldn’t find a message that resonated with the voters,” Healy said.

The failures at the national level seemed to trickle down to the state races where Republicans were trounced by the Democrats, who boosted their majorities Tuesday.

“The great irony of the last two years is that Republican leadership has proved we could be trusted to govern,” Healy said. “Sometimes when the winds howling you can’t hear.”