Election night in the Connecticut governor’s race ended with Gov. Ned Lamont declaring victory and Republican Bob Stefanowski taking the stage at a hotel ballroom in Trumbull and telling his supporters that the race was still too close to call.
It was more or less the same way Election Day ended after the pair’s first matchup in 2018, a race where Lamont ultimately beat Stefanowski by around 3 percentage points. That year, Stefanowski conceded the next day.
Earlier in the day, Lamont said he wanted Connecticut voters to vote for someone not against someone and he took the stage around 11:30 p.m. saying they delivered.
“I’ve got real faith in the people of Connecticut. The people of Connecticut know we’ve made real progress,” Lamont said.
All the votes had not been counted and the Associated Press had not called the race yet when Lamont and his family took the stage at the Yard Goats stadium in Hartford. The AP called the race right before 1 a.m. Wednesday in favor of Lamont.
“I’ve seen the numbers coming in from the press. I know where we stand,” Lamont said.
He added: “Let the dust settle tomorrow. All the final numbers are going to come in.”
The crowd started chanting “four more years.”
But down in Trumbull, Stefanowski was still not ready to admit defeat.
“These polls have had us down 10 points, 20 points, 30 points and we’re doing a heck of a lot better than any poll ever predicted. There’s still a hundred towns outstanding. We’re going to wait and see this thing to the finish,” Stefanowski said. “We’re going to win this race overnight.”
The remarks came an hour and a half after Fox News had called the race for Lamont, who had spent the last few weeks commanding double-digit leads in virtually every public poll.
“It’s late and I know what we’re hearing on television,” state Republican Chair Ben Proto told the crowd. “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.”
Lamont said he trusted the early election results. Connecticut’s biggest cities didn’t turnout in the numbers they did in 2018, but Lamont was confident that wasn’t going to matter.
“Donald Trump did not connect in the suburbs. The anti-choice movement is not connecting in the suburbs,” Lamont said. “People really worry about the proliferation of all the illegal guns in the streets and Democrats are more likely to do something about that.”
As far as trusting the results, “Connecticut gets it right. We had a good election, a fair election, now we all come together. We work together as one,” Lamont said.
He joked that Fox News was one of the organizations that called the race for him.
“Fox News!,” Lamont said.
The moderate Democrat touted his handling of the COVID pandemic and his ability to maintain a budget surplus.
“We went through COVID hell and back, but we did it better than any other state. We did it because we worked together. We looked out for each other. We got our schools open faster,” Lamont said to cheers. “Thousands, tens of thousands of families moving into the state of Connecticut. That’s how we expand the economic pie.”
The rematch between Lamont and Stefanowski was the most expensive in history.
Lamont spent a whopping $21.8 million on his re-election campaign, according to the latest election filings. Stefanowski spent $12.2 million on the rematch, making the $34 million total the most expensive gubernatorial contest in Connecticut’s history.
Add in all the outside spending and the race total increases to about $43 million.
However, it’s still not the most expensive race overall in Connecticut. That prize goes to Republican Linda McMahon, who spent $50 million on each of her two runs for U.S. Senate.
With respect to the underticket, only Attorney General William Tong had declared victory Tuesday night. The race for state treasurer, secretary of the state, and comptroller had yet to be called.
In the Congressional races, it appeared that John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Jim Himes were all winners in the 1st through 4th districts. In the 5th, while the race between incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes and Republican challenger George Logan was close, Logan held a slight lead with 67% of the precincts reporting after midnight.