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Challenger to speaker of the House withdraws

October 12, 2018

The Republican challenger to Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz has ended his campaign, making it nearly certain that Aresimowicz remains in power for another two years, if Democrats retain their majority.

“I’m looking forward to the next two years,” Aresimowicz, whose district includes Berlin and Southington, said Friday morning.

Steve Baleshiski, a 22-year-old college student from Southington, was running against Aresimowicz, but he lost his party’s endorsement and resigned from the race Thursday after his online comments criticizing the survivors of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida, and disparaging Muslims were circulated.

The Berlin and Southington Republican Town Committees are working on finding a new candidate, Anne Reilly, chairman of the Berlin RTC, wrote in an email Friday.

Baleshiski did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

This summer, Democratic state Reps Jason Rojas of East Hartford and Robyn Porter of New Haven started intra-party campaigns for House majority leader, claiming they would be ready to step up into leadership if Aresimowicz, who had a close race in 2016, lost his seat and Matt Ritter, the current Majority Leader, advanced to speaker.

Aresimowicz’s lack of opponent means Rojas and Porter will almost certainly have to wait until 2020 for a shot a majority leader. Democrats have a narrow majority in the chamber.

emunson@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @emiliemunson

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