HARTFORD, CT — Democrat Hillary Clinton may have won Connecticut, but Republican candidates made big gains Tuesday in the race for control of the General Assembly. In the Senate, Republicans picked up three of the four seats they needed to take over the majority, drawing even at 18-18 in the chamber.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, presides over the Senate to cast any tie-breaking votes.
Heather Somers of Groton, George Logan of Ansonia, and Len Suzio of Meriden were able to win their elections boosting the Republican membership to 18. The same amount as the Democrats.
“While tonight’s results weren’t what we hoped overall, we will continue to pursue an aggressive agenda to grow jobs, strengthen our economy and help middle class families get ahead,” Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the message sent Tuesday by the voters is that they want more cooperation between the parties. He said the Democrats overplayed their majority.
“It sends a message you haven’t been paying attention to the voice of the people,” Fasano said.
Republicans in the House were able to pick up several seats Tuesday cutting the majority by at least eight seats, according to the most recent information. There were a few races that were still being counted as of 11 p.m. but if the eight seat pick up holds, it means there will have to be more cooperation between the parties.
“Voters are angry and disappointed and they feel let down by legislators and the governor,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said. “Now with a difference of four votes, they won’t be able to give their members a pass on their bad policies.”
The gains are unprecedented since the disappearance of the party lever in a presidential election year, according to Pat O’Neil, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus.
“Republican gains in a year that produced a huge voter turnout in an overwhelmingly Blue State shows that our Republican message, despite attempts by Democrats to blur the political lines and distort voting records and smear Republicans with a massive advantage in special interest money, failed,” Klarides said.
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, who is expected to be elected the next speaker only won re-election by a few hundred votes.
Aresimowicz was in the House caucus room at the state Capitol receiving returns from around the state.
Reporters were not allowed into the room.
“We always knew this would be a tough campaign, and that people are sick and tired of the partisan divide that has engulfed our country from Washington on down,” Aresimowicz said in a statement. “As with every election, we won some seats and lost some others, and clearly the out of state independent money that blanketed Connecticut played a significant role.
Going into the race Tuesday there were 22 open House seats, split between the 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans.
Forty two of the 151 seats are uncontested. In the Senate, there are two senators, one Democrat and one Republican, who retired earlier this year. Four of the 36 seats in the upper chamber were not contested this year.