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Editorial Blue and red, but one state moving forward

November 9, 2018

Look at a map of how Connecticut’s 169 municipalities voted, and our blue state appears quite red. But by population, the cities and suburbs gave momentum to the blue wave that Democrats rode this week to keep the governorship and increase power in the General Assembly.

The victors should be humbled. Governor-elect Ned Lamont won by a narrow margin. The tone he must set now for a new administration needs to be inclusive, constructive and positive.

Besides winning all of the constitutional offices, Democrats increased their majority in the House from 80-71 seats to a comfortable 92-69, and tipped the previously even Senate to a 23-12 split, with one seat undecided.

The most impressive aspect of Tuesday’s election, though, was the stunningly high voter turnout. More than 1.3 million residents cast ballots, surpassing recent memory for a mid-term election, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Wednesday.

Looking back, this will be remembered as the year of energized civic engagement. Many first-time candidates — including youth, minorities and women — got involved, and won. Over and over in Editorial Board interviews, new candidates spoke of the dismay with national politics, and the negativity of the Trump administration, that motivated them to seek office.

As a result, newcomers uprooted several veteran politicians in the state Senate, including Republicans L. Scott Frantz in Greenwich, Michael McLachlan in Danbury, and Toni Boucher in Wilton — who lost to a 22-year-old recent college graduate.

Connecticut is sending its first African-American woman to Congress, Jahana Hayes in the 5th District, and elected its first Asian-American man as state attorney general. (It’s surprising, actually, that these “firsts” are happening only now in 2018.)

Regardless of which party won, the huge voter turnout is encouraging. At many polling places, voters were lined up before the doors opened at 6 a.m. One could be forgiven for feeling giddy standing in line to get a ballot and mark a choice. We were witnesses to democracy in action.

The challenge for us individually now is to stay engaged. Be informed, make your views known. There is power in numbers of like-minded people who understand that government can be a tool for betterment of all, not just a select few.

In the Democratic sweep of the five Congressional districts and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s easy re-election, voters also showed that Connecticut intends to stand strong against the harm of the Trump administration, such as with health care, climate change and immigration.

Let Connecticut be an example of how political parties can respect each other, how non-government interests, such as business, can be heard, and the marginalized can be considered.

Lamont expressed the right direction Wednesday after learning he had won the chance to lead the state for the next four years: “My door is open. And any good idea, let’s go with it. ... we’re going to solve this thing by working together.”

Connecticut may be a mosaic of blue and red, but we must collaborate now to move forward.

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