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Ned Lamont talks Wednesday about his gubernatorial victory and getting to work right away in Hartford (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT (Updated 2:30 p.m.) — Governor-elect Ned Lamont thanked a small group of supporters Wednesday afternoon for their efforts to get him across the finish line in what turned out to be another close gubernatorial election in Connecticut.

With a historic number of voters participating in Tuesday’s election, Lamont was able to defeat Republican Bob Stefanowski by 16,906 votes without including any results from New Haven, a traditional Democratic stronghold in Connecticut. The New Haven Independent was reporting today that Lamont received 24,688 votes to 4,227 for Stefanowski, which will expand Lamont’s victory, but won’t necessarily give him a mandate.

Stefanowski sent a statement Wednesday announcing that he called Lamont to concede.

“I wish both Ned and the state of Connecticut success over these next four years,” Stefanowski said in a statement. “While this is not the result we would have hoped for, I am glad that we were able to draw so much attention to the tax burden in this state.”

Stefanowski, who won a five-way Republican primary, said he feels like he made a real difference in the race by focusing on “cutting taxes.”

“We were able to mold the discussion in such a way that the other candidates slowly began to come around to the same conclusion to varying degrees,” he said. “I am hopeful that by relentlessly focusing on that issue we’ve started the conversation on how we can start to bring the tax burden on Connecticut families down.”

Lamont said that Stefanowski could not have been more gracious in his call to concede the race Wednesday.

“I look forward to working with him, because we all need to come together — regardless of party — to solve our state’s biggest challenges,” Lamont said.

He added that he will work every day “to move this state forward and be a champion for Connecticut.”

Lamont continued his positive message in an acceptance speech at noon Wednesday at the Yard Goats’ stadium in Hartford. It was where his supporters gathered Tuesday to watch the results and celebrate, but the delayed results and a cautious governor-elect forced the campaign to send supporters home.

He said he plans to listen to people from all walks of life.

“I really need folks who are going to roll up their sleeves and get the job done,” Lamont said. “Just leave the labels at the door. I want labor there. I want business leaders there. I want Democrats there. I want Republicans there. We gotta to work together to get through this thing and that’s how we’re going to do it.”

Ned Lamont is governor-elect and making his victory speech.
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Posted by on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ned Lamont back at podium to answer questions from reporters
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Posted by on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Lamont said the job of transitioning into the new position starts Thursday.

He said he called Democratic legislative leaders and Republican legislative leaders to let them know his door is open.

Based on unofficial numbers it looks like Democrats were able to win a supermajority in the Senate and gain as many as 12 seats in the House.

christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Ned Lamont and his family after his victory speech on Wednesday (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Jonathan Harris, a former rival in the gubernatorial race who dropped out and gave his support to Lamont, said that what he admires most about Lamont is that “he is who he is.”

Harris, who was one of the well-wishers who attended Lamont’s speech and press conference Wednesday, said Lamont “really knows what he knows and he’s willing to listen when he doesn’t.”

Lamont said one of the mandates he believes he got from voters “is to bring real fundamental change.”

Lamont pointed out that both he and Stefanowski came from outside the political process, so if there was a mandate maybe it’s to “shake things up.”

The race for many had become a proxy war between Republican President Donald Trump and outgoing Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

If that was the match-up then it looks as if Malloy won Tuesday.

“Elections offer a snapshot of the collective character as a state or nation,” Malloy said Wednesday morning. “It’s our opportunity to affirm who we are and what we value. And today, Connecticut spoke loud and clear that we stand for fairness, inclusivity, and decency. That the politics of President Trump have no home here.”

Malloy said that by voting for Lamont, “we resoundingly reject [Trump’s] politics of division, falsehoods, and empty promises. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Governor-elect Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor-elect Susan Bysiewicz.”

Malloy, who stayed away from the race to succeed him, said that “Connecticut has forward momentum, and of all the candidates on the ballot for these offices, they are, by far, the best suited to keep the state moving in the right direction. Under their leadership, Connecticut’s future remains bright.”

It’s the first time since 1877 that a Democratic governor succeeded another Democratic governor to an open seat.

Republicans had said that if they didn’t win Tuesday that droves of Connecticut residents were planning to leave Connecticut because they can no longer afford to live here.