Less than 24 hours after the 2011 municipal Elections, the Republican Party is trying to change Tuesday’s narrative to say preliminary tallies show that it made more gains than losses. But Democrats say they’re using “fuzzy math.”
In a press release sent out Wednesday afternoon the Republican Party claimed that it gained control of five municipal governments by wresting control of 14 towns previously run by Democrats.
“Despite the headlines, last night was a great night for Connecticut Republicans and our candidates,“ Republicans wrote in a press release. “Across the state, many Republican candidates enjoyed momentous wins, some with large margins of victory.”
Republicans claim the 14 towns it picked up include Windsor Locks, Tolland, Hampton, Stafford, South Windsor, Sherman, Suffield, Seymour, Plainville, Oxford, Harwinton, East Haven, Cromwell, and Beacon Falls. In Windsor Locks Republicans only gained control of the council Democratic First Selectman Steven Wawruck won a fourth term and East Haven’s race was close enough to merit a recount.
Republicans say that Democrats only picked up control of nine towns, but that’s where Eric Hyers, executive director of the Democratic Party, says their “fuzzy math,” comes into play.
The Republicans list Chester, Burlington, Middletown, Milford, New Britain, Manchester, Newington, Southbury, and Old Lyme as Democratic pickups. But Hyers said completely ignoring New London and Waterbury is “disingenuous.”
“We know they are the party of Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman but just saying something does not, in actuality, make it true,“ Hyers said. “The fact is the Connecticut Republicans have run so far to the fringe right of the political spectrum in the last year that they are reduced to spending today frantically arguing to their supporters that Waterbury and New London don’t count as Democratic victories.”
In Waterbury Michael Jarjura changed his party affiliation to Republican after Democrats didn’t endorse him and on Tuesday voters chose the Democratic candidate, former Police Chief Neil O’Leary, as its next mayor.
In New London, Democratic newcomer Daryl Justin Finizio beat five challengers to become that city’s next mayor.
Hyers said before Tuesday’s Election Democrats held 10 of the 20 largest Connecticut communities and now it controls 14.
Republicans fail to point out that the communities Democrats won have much larger populations than communities picked up by Republicans, Hyers said.
Republicans say they extended their majority from 99 towns under Republican control to 104, which means it represents a majority of Connecticut communities.
Bryan Cafferelli, executive director of the state Republican Party, said the narrative is that “we are doing very well and this was not the banner year for Democrats that people were claiming.”
And while these results are preliminary, Republicans expect these numbers to stay consistent as towns already under Republican control were not heavily contested.
In the first statewide election since Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took office Democrats focused on larger communities with the first Democratic governor in 20 years at the helm, but the vote tallies seem to show Republicans winning the suburbs and Democrats winning the urban communities.
“The Democratic Party had an extraordinary night last night in a string of extraordinary nights over the last year,” Malloy said Wednesday.
Democrats started out the year by inaugurating Malloy then followed up in February by election seven of its nine candidates in a special election to replace lawmakers who joined the Malloy administration. But Malloy’s victory over Tom Foley was one of the closest in state history.
“I think everyone of you was surprised if not one, two, or three maybe even more of those races,” Malloy said. “Maybe 157 of the municipalities were involved in that process yesterday and there’s something in it for everybody, but if you wanted to look at trends Democrats had a pretty good night.”
As head of the Democratic Party Malloy said he takes his role very seriously. And it doesn’t hurt the party to have a chief executive involved in electing local officials.
Under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Republicans did well in 2005, even though Rell had an icy relationship with Republican Party leadership.
Malloy said he was very involved in the races in New Britain, Middletown, and Waterbury.
Hyers said this was the first time the state party helped local candidates in a big way with phone banking, fundraising, direct mail, and getting out the vote.