At a Capitol press conference, Republicans said the even split between Democrats and Republicans in the Connecticut Senate means voters are fed up with politics as usual and want change.
“There is no longer a majority party in the state Senate,’’ Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said. “We are now a chamber of equals. The old way of doing things is over.’’
The election results saw Republicans gain three news seats, meaning that for the first time in over 100 years there will be the same number of Democratic and Republican senators – 18.
Republicans picked up three new seats with the election of George Logan of Ansonia in the 17th district, Heather Somers of Groton in the 18th district, and Len Suzio of Meriden in the 13th district.
That means there are an even amount of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman who presides over the chamber will be asked to break a tie.
Fasano, at a Wednesday press conference at the state Capitol, said while he is “looking forward” to working in partnership with the Democrats, he also isn’t convinced that the lieutenant governor has the absolute right to break a tie vote when it comes to the election of Senate president.
Fasano, when pressed on the matter, said he “wasn’t sure if a vote for leadership can be done.’’ He declined to discuss the matter further, stating “it has only been a couple of hours’’ since the election.
At an earlier Capitol press conference, Wyman said she’s confident she will make sure Senate President Martin Looney, D- New Haven, continues to remain the president of that chamber.
“The Constitution is clear that the Lieutenant Governor breaks a tie in the Senate,” Looney said in a statement Wednesday.
Fasano hinted that he would like to share some of the leadership responsibilities with Looney. While Looney didn’t comment on Fasano’s desire to share power, he did say that he wished to work with Republicans to find bipartisan solutions.
It’s been a long time since Connecticut’s Senate faced this issue.
The last time there was a tie in the state Senate was 1893. Article 4, Section 17 of the Connecticut Constitution spells out what happens in the event of a tie.
“The lieutenant-governor shall by virtue of his office, be president of the senate, and have, when in committee of the whole, a right to debate, and when the senate is equally divided, to give the casting vote,” the constitution says.
Fasano said he’s looking forward to figuring out the best way to govern.
“With this historic balance I look forward to a completely new dynamic in the state Senate that embraces collaboration and cooperation and that equally values all ideas and perspectives,’’ Fasano said. “This is a defining moment for Connecticut to change the way state government operates for the better.’’
As far as Democratic losses go, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday he doesn’t believe he’s the reason his party didn’t do as well in General Assembly races where Republicans picked up three seats in the Senate and at least eight seats in the House, shrinking the Democratic majority to 79-72.
There are still recounts pending in a handful of House races.
Malloy said candidates and lawmakers seeking re-election lost because they were outworked by their opponent. He said they lost “regardless of party.”
“These elections on the legislative side were individual elections and should not be assumed to be part of a collective,” Malloy said.
Republican legislative leaders worked hard to tie Democrats to Malloy and some Democratic candidates even sent out campaign mailers talking about the time they stood up to the governor.
When the legislative session starts in January, Republicans are expecting a seat at the table when it comes to setting policy. Last year they were in the room negotiating the budget up until the Democratic lawmakers kicked them out. The governor said he would have agreed to support some of their ideas like requiring a vote on all union contracts.
“I think on budgetary policy I may be more conservative than my Democratic colleagues,” Malloy said.
He said he was a mayor for 14 years so he may view things a little differently than lawmakers.
“We have real issues in Connecticut, not the least of which is the failure of my predecessors and the legislature to have assured the proper funding of pensions and post-employment benefits,” Malloy said. “Every day I have been governor I have recognized that is one of our chief issues.”
Pensions and post-retirement benefits account for about 25 percent of a nearly $20 billion state budget.
“Maybe we should just work in a nonpartisan way,” Malloy suggested.