For political junkies, nothing is as exciting as the special election.

“Specials” provide for interesting races and at times can present an early look at how things are trending. In Connecticut, we have the rare occurrence of nine different special elections being held simultaneously on Feb. 22. This is largely because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy named a handful of lawmakers to his administration.

These specials will make for a surprisingly interesting month for election followers during a time when usually nothing is going on.

Let’s start with a basic point: Special elections do not conform to the normal rules of elections. Results dramatically outside the norm are far more possible. This is for a very simple reason.

In Connecticut, a large percentage of districts have at least a third of each party’s base-voters contained within them In a normal election, even if that third is totally mobilized, it is unlikely to be able to prevail against even a slightly larger base, let’s say 40 percent from the other side. However in a special election the number of people who vote drops dramatically. With such a smaller electorate the possibility of asymmetric voting substantially increases the odds that a highly motivated minority could out vote the generic majority.

Also the number of unaffiliated participants drops both dramatically and disproportionately. This can also be seen in the far lower participation of unaffiliated voters in the odd-numbered years for municipal elections. These turnout differences can overcome partisan difference almost everywhere but in the central cities, in a few inner ring suburbs and perhaps in a few Republican strongholds.

Here is a preview of these races from the data-driven perspective you have come to expect from Jason the Greek:

Sixth Senatorial District formerly held by Donald DeFronzo (Berlin, part of Farmington, and New Britain)
In many ways, this is shaping up to be the marquee race in the state. It illustrates all the complexities inherent in special elections. Looking only at partisan make-up, the district should pretty handily vote for a Democrat. But the Republicans successfully recruited their best candidate in somewhat improbable Mayor Tim Stewart. He has held off Democrat challengers since first upsetting a Democratic Mayor in 2003. Democrats have also come up with a solid recruit in former state Rep. Theresa ‘Terry’ Gerratana. Two major variables will be decisive. Does Stewart have strong enough crossover appeal for Democrats in a race where partisan concerns might be higher than they were in the local race? (New Britain voters could count on an overwhelmingly Democratic Common Council to check any of Stewart’s more Republican leanings.). Will enough Democrats vote in a district which came very close to voting for John DeStefano in 2006? Stewart probably needs good crossovers and a low Democratic turnout for him to win.

Prediction:  53 percent-47 percent Gerratana


Malloy 2010 – 44 percent

Blumenthal 2010 – 50 percent

Obama 08 – 54 percent

Rell 06 -63 percent

Kerry 04 – 52 percent


Malloy 10 – 43 percent

Blumenthal 10 – 51 percent

Obama 08- 58 percent

Rell 06- Rell 64 percent

Kerry 04 53 percent

New Britain

Malloy 10 66 percent

Blumenthal 10 70 percent

Obama 08 75 percent

Rell 06 47 percent

Kerry 04 67 percent

13th Senatorial District formerly held by Thomas Gaffey, Senate (Part of Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, part of Middletown)
This is the only election not caused by the elevation of a legislator but as a result of scandal that led to a resignation. Such scandal-prompted resignations usually have at least a slight negative effect on the party whose officeholder has departed, in this case the Democrats. The Republicans, using an approach often adopted in many of these special elections, nominated their losing candidate from the 2010 election, Len Suzio. His 2010 total was a not terrible 42 percent. Democrats have nominated Meriden former teacher and Board of Ed member Thomas Bruenn. This should be a closer race than in November but overall the Democrats have too strong a partisan advantage for Suzio to overcome given his November performance.

Prediction: 54 percent-46 percent Bruenn.


Malloy 10 42 percent

Blumenthal 10 50 percent

Obama 08 54 percent

Rell 06 69 percent

Kerry 04 49 percent


Malloy 10 56 percent

Blumenthal 10 62 percent

Obama 08 68 percent

Rell 06 56 percent

Kerry 04 59 percent


Malloy 10 48 percent

Blumenthal 10 53 percent

Obama 08 57 percent

Rell 06 61 percent

Kerry 04 59 percent


Malloy 10 60 percent

Blumenthal 10 64 percent

Obama 08 71 percent

Rell 06 52 percent

Kerry 04 65 percent

27th Senatorial District formerly held by Andrew McDonald (Part of Darien and part of Stamford)
This will ultimately be the most interesting and closest race in the state. This is the classic example of turnout being king. Democrats have nominated State Representative Carlo Leone and Republicans have again gone to their 2010 candidate, Bob Koleberg, a Stamford Board of Finance member. Kolenberg, who hails from the Darien portion of the district, is absolute poison for Democrats, and Stamford has often looked far different in a municipal year than it does in either gubernatorial or \presidential years. These low turnout years might be a more accurate barometer. (Malloy had tough races for Mayor in 2005, and 2007, and Democrats lost the mayor’s office in 2009) . This is going to be a very close race that is particularly interesting because this is the home base of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. This is the grudge match race.

Prediction: 50 percent to 50 percent Leone.


Malloy 10 30 percent

Blumenthal 10 33 percent

Obama 08 45 percent

Rell 06 82 percent

Kerry 04 37 percent


Malloy 10 58 percent

Blumenthal 10 58 percent

Obama 08 64 percent

Rell 06 63 percent

Kerry 04 59 percent

20th House District formerly held by David McCluskey (Part of West Hartford)
This is probably the second most predictable of the state Representative races. Democrats, who hold a significant numerical advantage, have nominated Town Council member Joe Verrengia, who, interestingly, as a Republican in 2002, almost defeated the man he is running to replace. Republicans have nominated former state Rep. Allen Hoffman. In the event of a total turnout collapse by Democrats, Hoffman could have a shot, but generally there’s not too much to watch here.

Prediction: 59 percent to 41 percent Verrengia

West Hartford

Malloy 10 60 percent

Blumenthal 10 65 percent

Obama 08 69 percent

Rell 06 53 percent

Kerry 04 64 percent

36th House District formerly held by James Spallone (Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam)
This is an incredibly interesting race because it has pretty much everything. A supposed up-and-coming Republican star in Janet Peckinpaugh, who perhaps seems a little less bright after her failed challenge of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney in 2010. Peckinpaugh eked out the GOP nomination at a very contentious Republican convention. On the Democratic side, you have a well-established local official from one of the four towns, Essex’s First Selectman Phillip Miller. You also saw a near tie in the governor’s race in the district. The district dynamics involve four towns having to share one representative. If Republicans want to regain voting power in the State Legislature, this is exactly the kind of seat they need. Still, Miller’s base in Essex probably gives him the edge.

Prediction: 54 percent to 46 percent Miller.


Malloy 10 47 percent

Blumenthal 10 62 percent

Obama 08 68 percent

Rell 06 56 percent

Kerry 04 62 percent

Deep River

Malloy 10 49 percent

Blumenthal 10 58 percent

Obama 08 63 percent

Rell 06   58 percent

Kerry 04 59 percent


Malloy 10 46 percent

Blumenthal 10 57 percent

Obama 08 62 percent

Rell 06 67 percent

Kerry 04 54 percent


Malloy 10 42 percent

Blumenthal 10 48 percent

Obama 08 55 percent

Rell 06 63 percent

Kerry 04 53 percent

99th House District formerly held by Michael Lawlor (Part of East Haven)
East Haven performed slightly more Democratic in 2010 than it had in any year since 2002, when it trended more Democratic than the state, and 2000 where it was overwhelming Democratic. East Haven has had some of the largest swings of any town in the state. This makes for a very interesting race between the 2010 Republican candidate Linda Monaco, who got 44 percent, and town community activist James Albis. The base clearly exists for either candidate to win.

Prediction: 52 percent to 48 percent Albis

Malloy 10 51 percent

Blumenthal 10 58 percent

Obama 08 56 percent

Rell 06 68 percent

Kerry 04 52 percent

101st House District formerly held by Deb Heinrich (Part of Guilford, Madison)
This is the seat that should clearly favor the Republicans. The Republicans have nominated a long term Republican Selectman Noreen Kokoruda while Democrats nominated Joan Walker who lacks elective experience though she does have appointed experience. This is a district won easily by Tom Foley and almost won by Linda McMahon. Madison also voted for Bush in 2004, [though the district probably voted for Kerry.] This needs to be a Republican district if they are ever to hold a House Majority.  The only caveat is that in 2006, Kokoruda was the candidate who ran against Heinrich and did quite poorly.

Prediction: 53 percent to 47 percent Kokourda


Malloy 10 50 percent

Blumenthal 10 58 percent

Obama 08 61 percent

Rell 06 67 percent

Kerry 04 56 percent


Malloy 10 43 percent

Blumenthal 10 52 percent

Obama 08 56 percent

Rell 06 71 percent

Kerry 04 49 percent

126th House District formerly held by Chris Caruso (Part of Bridgeport)
The only thing we can know about this race is that it is pure bedlam.  In 2006 there was a Democrat versus Republican race in this district, and only 4376 voters cast ballots.  At best half of that number will vote in this special election, and there are eight candidates on the ballot. This happened mostly because a district like this is typically decided in the Democratic primary.  Since specials don’t have primaries, the only recourse is to run as a petitioning candidate in what becomes the de-facto primary in the special election. The odds would seem here to favor the Democratic nominated candidate, Rev. Charlie Stallworth, because of simple ease of voting for him on the Democratic Row A. But the reality is that the winning candidate will more likely than not win with fewer than 1000 votes. This means the competing factions amongst Bridgeport Democrats should produce a very interesting race. Only in Bridgeport is the place to go for more info. If Republicans were ever going to steal a race in this district it would be now, but that remains incredibly unlikely.

Prediction: Stallworth by a nose.


Malloy 10 81 percent

Blumenthal 10 81 percent

Obama 08 84 percent

Rell 06 42 percent

Kerry 04 71 percent

26th House District formerly held by John Geragosian. (Part of New Britain)
The only interesting thing here is the Republicans’ tactical choice. Bobby Sanchez, the Democrat, is running unopposed because his portion of New Britain would bring out voters in a contested race. This will harm Tim Stewart in the Senate special election being held the same day. So the Republicans chose to sit it out so as not encourage any extra turnout in this district.

Prediction: 100 percent Sanchez

Partisan Make up

New Britain

Malloy 10 66 percent

Blumenthal 10 70 percent

Obama 08 75 percent

Rell 06 47 percent

Kerry 04 67 percent