Courtesy of Twitter
Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto campaigning in New Britain this past weekend (Courtesy of Twitter)

HARTFORD, CT — The Democratic Party was taking a victory lap Wednesday based on gains they made nationally and here in Connecticut in Tuesday’s election.

Connecticut Democrats flipped the top spot in at least 14 cities and towns as well as control of the governing boards and councils in at least 10 towns. Leigh Appleby, a spokesman for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said they were able to flip control from Republicans to Democrats in 22 municipalities. (See below)

With only one big city mayor up for re-election this year, the Democratic Party — which dominates the landscape in Connecticut’s urban areas — turned their attention to the suburbs and won big for the first time since 2011.

In Glastonbury, Democrats gained control of the town council for the first time in many years, also breaking a 14-year Republican supermajority. In Manchester, Democrats extended their majorities on both the board of directors and school board. Four of the six Democrats who won control of the board of directors are women.

Democrats also won control of the South Windsor town council and school board, despite the resignation of a candidate mid-campaign over a controversial Facebook post. In the council race, M. Saud Anwar received the most votes, which means a Democrat and a Muslim will regain control of the mayor’s office.

In Groton, the Republicans had held an 8-1 majority on the town council. On Tuesday, Democrats swept all nine council seats.

Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said the Democratic Party wants to make this election all about Trump, but if that’s true, he asked rhetorically, then “how come the Trump narrative worked in Bristol and not New Britain? All politics is local and that still holds true tonight.”

In Bristol, Democrats unseated Republican Mayor Ken Cockayne, who was vying for his third term after being censured twice by the town council over sexual harassment allegations. However in New Britain, Republican Mayor Erin Stewart held onto her seat but Democrats regained control of the council.

While being cautious of his assessment about whether Tuesday was an anti-Trump wave, Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said “whatever it was, it was a big relief for Democrats.”

He said the results in Connecticut’s local elections seem to mirror the national trend.

“The Democratic base seems fired up, so if Republicans were looking for an easy win next year, Tuesday’s results should make them wary,” Schurin said.

With an unpopular Democratic governor who isn’t seeking a third term, many have speculated that the governor’s office in 2018 is the Republican Party’s to lose. There are at least 19 candidates exploring a run or vying for their party’s nomination for governor next year.

Schurin said that in order for a candidate to be successful in 2018 they will have to make a case that they have their own ideas and they’re more than anti-Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“If people were looking for a huge anti-Malloy swing last night, it didn’t materialize,” Schurin added.

Romano said he doesn’t believe what happened Tuesday will have any impact on 2018.

He said he doesn’t believe the Democrats can run from “their total failure in Hartford.” He said if they could then the Republicans wouldn’t have been able to pick up seats in 2014 and 2016.

As for 2017, “I fully understand that the Democrats want to keep their base in perpetual state of rage, but at the end of the day, Republicans are winning in communities like Norwich and Derby because those residents were suffering under Democratic leadership,” Romano said. 

Meanwhile, Malloy, who is also chair of the Democratic Governors Association, joined Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez in a conference call about Tuesday’s results.

He said the DGA made its investments early in Virginia and New Jersey. The DGA spent $7 million on the governor’s race in Virginia and $4 million in New Jersey.

“We won last night because we came together and were united,” Malloy said.

Voters were also enthusiastic and braved the rain to send Trump a message, according to Malloy.

It also didn’t hurt that the Republican running for governor in Virginia was “Trump-lite.”

Malloy said Ed Gillespie, a former lobbyist and Republican National Committee chairman, “ran into a trap.”

A few weeks ago when polls showed Democrats were not doing as well as they had been, Republicans went back to their playbook of “dividing” voters, Malloy said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in Virginia Democrats won by the largest margin since 1985. He said it’s because they had 33 progressive groups on the ground working together.

“Everyone had their oar in the water and were rowing in the same direction,” Perez said.

Those progressive grassroot groups that formed after Trump was elected are also taking responsibility for victories in Connecticut.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Terra Volpe of Action Together Connecticut speaks outside the state Capitol Wednesday (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Activists with Action Together CT (ATCT), who decided to take an active role in the election process from the bottom up following Trump’s election, were at the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon for a victory lap.

In collaboration with the Connecticut Democratic Party, ATCT made over 300,000 calls in over 800 completed volunteer shifts to homes across the state to increase Democratic turnout.

“Our five chapters across the state held phone banks starting in September to remind voters to vote in their town elections,” Valerie Horsley of Action Together Connecticut said. “We intend to use this strategy to continue to motivate voters to vote and get involved to elect officials that support our members’ values in 2018 and beyond.”

Posted by on Wednesday, November 8, 2017

According to Appleby, the Democratic Party flipped the local chief executives and governing boards in the following towns:

Mayors/First Selectmen
New Fairfield
North Stonington

Governing councils/boards
South Windsor
New Britain* (Dems win council from supermajority, GOP mayor re-elected)
Newington* (picked up council, but GOP mayor won re-election)