There were local issues at play in each of the 12 legislative primaries throughout the state Tuesday, but it looks as if Hamden Democrat Josh Elliott pulled off a victory against Hamden Council President Jim Pascarella, while Sens. Marilyn Moore and Terry Gerratana each held onto their seats.
Unofficial results in the Bridgeport contest between Sen. Ed Gomes, who had to sue to get his name on the ballot, and party-endorsed candidate Dennis Bradley, show that Gomes was able to hold onto the seat by a small margin.
Elliott, Moore, Gerratana, Gomes, and Michael DiMassa of West Haven, who toppled veteran lawmaker Louis Esposito, all ran as Democrats, but received the backing of the Connecticut Working Families Party in their campaigns.
Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, said their victories prove that “people are tired of legislators whose only solution to fixing the budget crisis is cutting taxes for the wealthy.”
The Working Families Party and their allies in the labor movement have been upset with the Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic leadership in the General Assembly for passing a budget that doesn’t increase taxes, cuts spending, and allows for the layoffs of more than 1,125 state employees.
“That hasn’t worked, and it’s the working and middle class voters who have paid out of pocket for years,” Farrell said. “People want fair taxation policy and they care about raising the minimum wage, passing paid family leave, and ensuring debt-free higher education.”
In Hamden, Elliott, a 31-year-old attorney and local business owner, entered the race before House Speaker Brendan Sharkey announced he wasn’t seeking re-election. Pascarella, who received the support of the political establishment, entered the race after Sharkey’s retirement announcement.
In declaring victory Tuesday, Elliott said his win “is a forceful rejection of the usual Hartford politics led by Speaker Sharkey’s history of stalling on budget moves, telling voters that they must tighten their belts while the wealthiest Connecticut residents go relatively unscathed by the budget deficit.”
In New Britain, Gerratana easily defeated New Britain School Board President Sharon Beloin-Saavedra.
Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, it looked as if Gomes, a four-term state senator who won a court challenge in July to get on the primary ballot, was able to hold off Bradley.
In 2015, Gomes, 80, wasn’t the endorsed candidate, but he won the support of the Working Families Party, just like he did this year, and won a special election that year to take back the seat he had held for three terms.
“I’m no rock star,’’ Gomes said early in the day Tuesday. “I do my job and that seems to resonate with the people.”
Moore, whose district includes Bridgeport, Trumbull, and Monroe, was able to fend off a challenge from Bridgeport City Council President Thomas McCarthy.
Rep. Charles Stallworth, also of Bridgeport, was able to fend off a challenge from school board member Maria Pereira. Also in Bridgeport, Rep. Andre Baker held off a challenge from Charles Coviello Jr.
In Stamford, first-term state Rep. Terry Adams held onto his seat by defeating Dan Dauplaise.
In New London, political newcomer Chris Soto pulled off an upset against Ernest Hewett, a six-term incumbent in the House.
Soto, 35, is a Coast Guard Academy graduate who served five years andearned a master’s degree from Brown University, and then founded a nonprofit organization that guides low-income youth through college.
In Bristol, there were two young Democrats vying for an opportunity to run against first-term Republican Cara Pavalock. Laura Bartok, the 31-year-old social worker, won the Democratic primary by more than 500 votes over Christy Matthews, a 21-year-old University of Connecticut undergraduate.
In West Haven, DiMassa was able to unseat 12-term incumbent Democrat Louis Esposito, who has served the district since 1993.
There were also two Republican primaries Tuesday. In both, incumbent state Reps. Jay Case, R-Winchester, and Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, emerged victorious.
Turnout Tuesday was abysmal. With no statewide candidates and no high-profile races for U.S. Senate on the ballot, getting voters to the polls wasn’t easy on a sweltering Tuesday in August.
According to preliminary information from the Secretary of the State’s office, voter turnout with 14 of the 14 towns reporting was around 19 percent in the Democratic primaries and 16 percent with five of the nine towns reporting in the Republican primaries. There were also two races for registrar of voters and two for Probate Judge.
In Connecticut, only voters registered with a party are allowed to vote in a primary.
Christine Stuart, Jack Kramer, and Max Moran contributed to this report.