Susan Bigelow

There’s less than a month to go until Election Day, and so far precious little attention has been paid to races for the Connecticut General Assembly. This is a shame, because state legislators often have more power to shape our day-to-day lives than anyone at the national level. 

It can seem overwhelming to try and keep track of 151 races for the Connecticut House of Representatives and 36 for the state Senate. There are no polls or breathless, daily horse-race coverage, which means knowing which races to focus on can be difficult. Hopefully, this guide, which uses some simple analytical guidelines to identify those contests with a high chance of flipping from one party to the other, will help.

There are three criteria for whether a race makes it on this list. First, districts with an open seat are often opportunities for change, especially when the outgoing incumbent has been in office for a long time. There are 22 House districts open this year, though some of them are in areas that are so heavily dominated by one party that they don’t make the list. 

Second, if the seat flipped in 2020, it is guaranteed to be on this list. While incumbency still provides a strong advantage for any candidate, first-term incumbents tend to be more vulnerable. National wave elections can have noticeable effects at the state legislative level, which can lead to a seat flipping for one election cycle before flipping back. 

Third, seats in areas where party control has been shifting are often at high risk for upsets. The Connecticut political scene has a certain geography, and long-term trends toward one party or the other are often reflected at the legislative level.

With all of this in mind, here’s the current list of 27 races to watch for the state House of Representatives.

District 16: Melissa Osborne (D) is facing Mike Paine (R). This is an open-seat race for a Democratic-held seat. Chances are low that this district, which is entirely within Simsbury, will flip to the Republicans, but if there is going to be a red wave this district would be the canary in the coal mine.

District 17: Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D) is facing Heather Macguire (R), a member of the Town Council in Avon. This district, which is in what used to be solid GOP territory in Canton and Avon, flipped in 2020.

District 22: Rebecca Martinez (D) and Francis Rexford Cooley (R) are facing off to replace outgoing GOP Rep. William Petit. This has been a solid Republican seat for Petit, but was previously held by Democrats before his election. Redistricting has made this district a bit safer for the GOP.

District 30: Rep. Donna Veach (R) is defending her seat against Denise McNair (D). This seat flipped in 2020, after being held by former Democratic Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz.

District 35: First-term Rep. Christine Goupil (D) faces Chris Aniskovich (R). This seat flipped in 2020, and is in an area that has been trending toward Democrats in recent years.

District 42: Keith Denning (D) is running against Kim Healy (R) for an open seat. This district used to be in eastern Connecticut, but following redistricting is now mostly in Wilton, with bits of Ridgefield and New Canaan included. This area is usually pretty Republican, but much of Fairfield County has been trending slowly toward the Democrats. This one could go either way.

District 48: Christopher Rivers (D), Mark DiCaprio (R), and Independent Party candidate Lance Lusignan are all running for an open seat. This is a seat currently held by Democrats, but redistricting has radically altered its shape. The surrounding area is trending toward the GOP, as well. This is a strong pickup opportunity for Republicans.

District 53: Rep. Tammy Nucio (R) is facing challenger Kenneth Trice (D). This seat, which is focused on Tolland, flipped in 2020, and is in an increasingly Republican area. Changes from redistricting could make this one interesting.

District 55: Steve Weir (R) and Wes Skorski (D) are running for an open seat currently held by Republicans.

District 56: Kevin Brown (D) and Jim Tedford (R) are running for an open seat currently held by Democrats. This seat, in the Rockville section of Vernon, leans toward the Democrats.

District 57: Rep. Jaime Foster (D) is facing David E. Stavens (R) in a rematch of their 2020 race. This seat flipped in 2020 as an open seat race to replace an outgoing GOP representative. This district is in a traditionally Republican area.

District 66: Karen Reddington-Hughes (R) and Matthew D. Dyer (D) are vying for a Republican-held open seat.

District 70: Seth Bronko (R) is facing off against Jeff Litke (D) in an open-seat race to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Rosa Rebimbas. This Naugatuck district has been in Republican hands for a long time.

District 79: Mary B. Fortier (D) and Jennifer Van Gorder (R) are running for an open seat to replace outgoing Rep. Chris Ziogas (D). This district favors Democrats, but is in notoriously swingy Bristol, so the GOP has an outside chance here.

District 81: Tony Morrison (R) and Christopher J. Poulous (D) are running for a GOP-held open seat. This district was Democratic until 2016, and could possibly flip back.

District 83: Jonathan “Jack” Fazzino (D) and Lou Arata (R) are running to replace Democratic Rep. Catherine Abercrombie. This district has seen some very close races in the recent past and is a good pickup opportunity for Republicans.

District 98: Rich DiNardo (R) is facing Moira M. Rader (D) in an open seat race to replace Democratic Rep. Sean Scanlon, who is running for comptroller.

District 101: Rep. John-Michael Parker (D) is facing challenger John A. Rasimas (R) to defend a seat that flipped to Democrats in 2020. This seat is in Madison, hometown of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski.

District 107: Martin Foncello (R) and Phoebe Holmes (D) are running for a Republican-held open seat. This is GOP territory, though this district’s shape has changed somewhat due to redistricting.

District 109: Farley Santos (D) is facing Jesy Fernandez (R) for a Democratic-held open seat. This area in Danbury favors Democrats.

District 111: Rep. Aimee Berger-Girvalo (D) is defending her seat against Bob Hebert (R) in a rematch of their 2020 race. This district flipped to the Democrats as an open seat race in 2020.

District 114: Rep. Mary Welander (D) is facing challenger Daniel Cowan (R). This district flipped from Republican to Democrat in 2020 as an open seat. This district was held until 2020 by former GOP minority leader Themis Klarides.

District 116: Rep. Treneé McGee (D) is facing Aaron Haley (R) and Shawn A. Brown of the Independent Party. McGee won a special election last year to replace disgraced former Rep. Michael DiMassa, and has made headlines for her opposition to abortion. The fallout from the DiMassa scandal may linger in this district.

District 123: Rep. David Rutigliano (R) is facing Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox (D) in a rematch of their close 2020 contest. This part of Fairfield County trends slightly toward Democrats.

District 127: So this is one to keep an eye on before Election Day! Bridgeport Democrat Marcus A. Brown was initially thought to have very narrowly defeated Rep. Jack Hennessy in an August primary, but due to all kinds of issues the primary is being re-run on Oct. 18 (or possibly Oct. 25). If Hennessy loses, he will still be on the November ballot as the Working Families Party candidate.

District 132: Rep. Jennifer Leeper (D) is facing former Rep. Brian Farnen (R) in a rematch of their 2020 contest. This Fairfield district flipped to the Democrats in 2020.

District 134: Meghan McCloat (R) and Sarah Keitt (D) are running to replace outgoing GOP Rep. Laura Devlin. Devlin is the running mate of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some erroneous information was included in the paragraph about District 17 in the original version of this article.

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Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of or any of the author's other employers.