(UPDATED, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday) – Based on early reports, there will be little change in the composition of the Connecticut legislature, but there were at least two significant upsets: Democrat Dante Bartolemeo knocked out incumbent Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, and Republican Lezlye Zupkus defeated Democrat Rep. Vickie Orsini Nardello in the 89th House District.
Zupkus’ overall margin of victory was just 231 votes in the 89th District that serves Bethany, Cheshire, and Prospect. Nardello made a concession speech Tuesday and took it back for a while as questions about absentee ballots were resolved. Reached today, Nardello said those questions were cleared up and she has conceded the race.
Nardello’s loss is significant for Democrats because she co-chairs the Energy and Technology committee and has been a member of the house since 1995. In 2010, she won 54 percent of the vote.
According to House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, Democrats will file a complaint about the race over late expenditures by outside groups, which Sharkey says were inadmissible under the rules. Sharkey expressed concern over spending by outside groups in general, and said that while “big money doesn’t always drive the result,” it can be dangerous if left unchecked.
Sharkey, who ran for re-election unopposed, said that Nardello was “obviously a great leader, a great resource, and a great friend. We’re going to miss her.”
Suzio, whom opponents described as a Tea Party Republican, conceded to Democratic challenger Dante Bartolemeo. Known for his controversial views on social issues, Suzio gained the seat in a special election in 2011 to replace Thomas Gaffey, who had resigned after pleading guilty to misdemeanor violations of state election law.
Meanwhile, Republicans held on to several key seats, including that of Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington. Markley, an outspoken critic of the New Britain-to-Hartford busway project, held off a challenge from Democrat Corky Mazurek. The Democrats held a 99-52 seat advantage in the House before the election.
“There were 18 Democratic retirements this year,” Sharkey said. “We held all but two.”
Republican Rep. Bill Wadsworth lost his 21st District seat in Farmington to town councilman Mike Demicco. Wadsworth won his seat in 2010.
Democrat Brian Sear defeated Noah Enslow in the 47th House District, a seat currently held by Republican Rep. Christopher Coutu. The 47th covers Canterbury, Norwich, Scotland, Sprague, Chaplin, Lebanon, Lisbon, Franklin, and Hampton. Coutu is running for the state senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia.
Political newcomer Emmett Riley defeated Republican Mikel Middleton in a battle for an open seat in the 86th District, which includes a part of Norwich. Democrat James Maroney also won an open seat race in Milford.
David Arconti held the 109th district in Danbury for the Democrats following the retirement of Rep. Joseph Taborsak.
Republican Art Linares defeated Democrat Jim Crawford in the state Senate, in which Democrats held a 22-14 majority coming into Nov. 6.
Linares, whose 33rd District covers Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook, will replace outgoing Democrat Sen. Eileen Daily, who is retiring. Linares polled 22,039 votes to Crawford’s 19,670. The winning margin was less than the vote total for Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag, who polled 3,957 votes.
Democrat Cathy Osten claimed victory over Republican State Rep. Christopher Coutu in the race for an open state senate seat in the 19th District, which covers Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Marlborough, Montville, Norwich and Sprague. The district is currently represented by retiring state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees committee.
Long-serving State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, won another term, defeating former state Rep. Karen Jarmoc in the 7th District, which covers Enfield, Windsor Locks, Suffield, Somers and East Granby and parts of Granby and Windsor.