AP NEWS

The Latest: Dems make gains in Connecticut General Assembly

November 7, 2018
1 of 2

Democrat Jahana Hayes, candidate in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, speaks during an election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Waterbury, Conn. (H John Voorhees III/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Latest on Tuesday’s election in Connecticut (all times local):

2:45 a.m.

Democrats expect to regain control of Connecticut’s state Senate, which has been split evenly with Republicans for the past two years.

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney says it appears the party won at least 21 seats Tuesday in the 36-seat chamber, calling it a “big night for Democrats.”

The list includes the 24th state Senate district. That’s where Julie Kushner, a longtime union organizer, defeated incumbent Republican Michael McLachlan, who first took office in 2009. Both are from Danbury.

There are several other state Senate races that are either too close to call or may require a recount.

Democrats are also hopeful they’ve picked up seats in the House of Representatives.

___

1:55 a.m.

Democrat Shawn Wooden has defeated Republican Thad Gray in the race for Connecticut state treasurer.

Wooden, a pension plan investment attorney from Hartford, will succeed Democrat Denise Nappier, who is retiring after 20 years and was the first black woman in the country to be elected a state treasurer.

The treasurer oversees $63 billion in state funds and investments, including $34 billion in state pension funds, and sits on the State Bond Commission and other boards.

Both Wooden and Gray, a retired investment officer from Salisbury, called for reforms to fix the state’s problem of underfunded pension obligations. Only about 37 percent of state employee pension obligations are funded.

Gray blamed Democrats for the problem and had vowed to improve state investment decisions.

The race also featured Libertarian Jesse Brohinsky.

____

1:40 a.m.

Democrat Kevin Lembo has won a third term as Connecticut comptroller.

Lembo defeated Republican Kurt Miller in the race for the post, which is known as the state’s chief fiscal guardian. The comptroller’s office administers employee and retirement benefits and prepares financial reports, among other duties.

Lembo, of Guilford, cited his government transparency initiatives, including the Open Connecticut website that makes state finances available for public viewing, and his opposition as a member of the State Bond Commission to borrowing tens of millions of dollars to help wealthy financial firms.

Miller has served four terms as first selectman of Seymour. He campaigned on promises to improve the state’s finances and stand up against unneeded state borrowing.

The race also featured Libertarian Paul Passarelli and Green Party candidate Edward Heflin.

____

1:30 a.m.

Democrat Denise Merrill has been re-elected as Connecticut secretary of the state in a race against Republican Susan Chapman.

Merrill will serve a third four-year term as the state’s top elections official. She cited her efforts to protect and expand voting rights, make registering to vote and voting easier, and guarding against election hacking.

Merrill, of Hartford, formerly served in the state House of Representatives representing her former hometown of Mansfield. She rose to majority leader.

Chapman, the former first selectwoman of New Fairfield, lost her re-election bid last year. She said state government needs to be reformed to make it work better for residents and businesses, and she advocated for more business-friendly policies.

The race also featured Libertarian Heather Gwynn and Green Party candidate Mike DeRosa.

____

12:59 a.m.

Issues with wet ballots are slowing the vote-counting in Connecticut.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says thousands of ballots than cannot be read by scanners may have to be counted by hand.

Voters cast ballots amid steady rain Tuesday in Connecticut and some became soggy.

Merrill said workers tallying the votes are being asked to get out hair dryers and to do what they can to dry ballots enough for them to be scanned.

The race for Connecticut governor was still too close to call early Wednesday.

___

12:31 a.m.

Acclaimed educator Jahana Hayes will become the first black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress after winning the state’s open seat.

Hayes, a Democrat, defeated Republican Manny Santos, a former mayor of Meriden, to represent the state’s northwest corner.

The 2016 National Teacher of the Year only recently got involved in politics. She capitalized on her life story as a onetime teen mother who overcame poverty and rose to the height of her profession.

Hayes will succeed U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty. The Democrat chose not to seek re-election after being criticized for her slow handling of a sexual harassment case in her office. It involved her former chief of staff, who was not fired for several months following allegations he punched and threatened a female staffer.

On the campaign trail, Hayes called for strengthening the public education system and passing stronger federal gun safety laws.

___

11:10 p.m.

Voters in central Connecticut are sending U.S. Rep. John Larson back to the U.S. House of Representatives for an 11th term.

Larson, a Democrat, was heavily favored to win the race in the largely Democratic district that includes Hartford.

His Republican challenger, Jennifer Nye, entered the race only when it became clear at the GOP convention no other candidates were stepping forward. Nye is a former member of the Manchester Board of Directors.

The 70-year-old Larson was first elected to Congress in 1998. His latest campaign has emphasized efforts to reduce gun violence, make higher education more affordable and expand the Social Security system.

___

11 p.m.

Acclaimed educator Jahana Hayes is declaring victory in her bid for a U.S. House seat representing northwestern Connecticut.

Votes were still being counted Tuesday night and it was too close for The Associated Press to call a winner.

Hayes, a Democrat, is facing Republican Manny Santos, a former mayor of Meriden.

The two are vying to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who chose not to seek re-election after being criticized for her slow handling of a sexual harassment case in her office. It involved her former chief of staff, who was not fired for several months following allegations he punched and threatened a female staffer.

Hayes is a former national teacher of the year who called for strengthening the public education system and passing stronger federal gun safety laws.

___

10:45 p.m.

A judge is planning to hold a hearing on Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski’s concerns that some voters in New Haven and at the University of Connecticut may have been allowed to vote illegally.

State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano says the hearing is planned for Friday, but whether it will ultimately matter depends on results from Tuesday’s election.

Stefanowski’s campaign had sought a court injunction seeking to have ballots from a group of new voters at both locations separated until they’re determined to be legal. Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for the Secretary of the State’s office, says those registrars were advised to segregate the votes, but still count them from potential voters who swore as a group they’ve never been registered before in Connecticut.

Long lines prompted the move.

___

10:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro is returning for another term in the U.S. House seat she has held since 1991.

DeLauro, a Democrat, was re-elected Tuesday for a 15th term. She was facing a rematch against the same Republican challenger from the previous election, Angel Cadena Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and truck driver from Shelton.

DeLauro is 75. She says her highest priority is improving the economy and ensuring economic policies benefit families and businesses in her district, including the city of New Haven.

Cadena had called for exploration of ways to ease traffic and endorsed the idea of a bridge over Long Island Sound to connect the New Haven area with New York state. During the campaign, he joked about the GOP not giving him money because it wanted to spend it on races it could win.

___

9:55 p.m.

Voters have agreed to change Connecticut’s constitution and place limits on the General Assembly when it attempts to transfer and sell state-owned property to a non-state entity.

Environmental and conservation groups have pushed for the amendment. They say 270,000 acres of state-owned forests and parks are at risk under the current system, which allows the General Assembly to hand over ownership.

Eric Hammerling, executive director of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, says “any measure short of a constitutional amendment could be circumvented or ignored” by lawmakers.

The amendment will require a public hearing before the property is transferred. If that property is under the custody or control of the Departments of Agriculture or Energy and Environmental Protection, the legislature must approve it by a two-third majority in both chambers.

___

9:50 p.m.

Connecticut voters have agreed to amend the state’s constitution to ensure transportation revenues are spent on transportation projects.

A diverse coalition of more than 30 organizations, including labor unions, business associations, major state employers, environmental groups and transportation organizations, has been pushing for the so-called transportation lockbox. The constitutional change now requires all state taxes and fees imposed for transportation needs, including public transportation and improvements and maintenance of roads and bridges, is spent on those purposes.

While some Republican state legislators have complained the language isn’t strict enough to prevent future raids by the General Assembly, Senate Republican leader Len Fasano supported the measure, saying it’s a good start.

It comes as Connecticut faces hundreds of millions of dollars in needed transportation infrastructure fixes.

___

9:30 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes has been re-elected to a fourth term in the House representing the southwest corner of Connecticut.

The Democrat on Tuesday defeated Republican candidate Harry Arora, an investment manager who grew up in India and became a U.S. citizen after coming to the states for graduate school.

The 52-year-old Himes is a former Goldman Sachs & Co. banker from Greenwich. He has touted his efforts to create financial regulatory reform, help improve the economy and support more funding to improve roads, bridges and rail lines.

Like other members of Connecticut’s all-Democrat congressional delegation, Himes also has been an outspoken critic of many of President Donald Trump’s policies.

___

9:25 p.m.

Republican Bob Stefanowski’s gubernatorial campaign has filed a request for a court injunction seeking to have the ballots from a group of new voters in New Haven and the University of Connecticut separated, but not disqualified.

A campaign spokesman says the votes should not count toward the final total until they’re determined to be legal.

Gabe Rosenberg from the Secretary of the State’s office says some first-time voters in New Haven were allowed to vote after swearing as a group they’ve never been registered to vote before in Connecticut. The move was prompted by long lines of people seeking Election Day registrations.

Rosenberg says those votes are “being segregated and they’re being counted” toward the final count. He says officials will abide by a judge’s injunction, if one is issued.

___

9:15 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney has won re-election to a seventh term representing eastern Connecticut.

The Democrat from Vernon has represented the 2nd Congressional District since 2007.

His challenger nominated by Republicans, Iraq War veteran Dan Postemski of Hampton, stopped campaigning weeks before the election. He said he stepped up when nobody else was willing to challenge the incumbent, but he was promised help that never materialized.

Courtney has emphasized his efforts as a member of the House Armed Services Committee to bolster submarine construction at Electric Boat in Groton and the nearby Navy base.

Also on the ballot were Green Party candidate Michelle Louise Bicking and Daniel Reale, a libertarian.

___

8:35 p.m.

The Secretary of the State’s office says some new, first-time voters in New Haven have been allowed to vote after swearing as a group they’ve never been registered to vote before in Connecticut.

Spokesman Gabe Rosenberg says there was a long line Tuesday at the city’s registrar’s office, where only two people were working. He says the city’s election staff asked state officials for guidance.

While the new voters’ ballots will count, he says they’ve been separated “out of an abundance of caution.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski’s campaign has raised concerns about a “mass swearing in” of new voters in New Haven and at the University of Connecticut, claiming it’s illegal.

Connecticut law requires people to be registered and in the system before the polls closed at 8 p.m.

___

8 p.m.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy has won a second term in office, defeating a little-known Republican small businessman.

Murphy had amassed a war chest 100 times bigger than Matt Corey, who runs a high-rise window clean business in Hartford. It was a marked difference from his 2012 victory, when Murphy defeated former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon, who spent about $50 million of her own money on the race.

The 45-year-old Murphy spent much of the campaign helping fellow Democrats. He also transferred $320,000 from his $14.5 million campaign fund to the state Democrats to help with field organizing.

Murphy has said he wanted to make sure Democrats were doing “everything possible to get the biggest turnout we could.”

Corey accused him of not taking the race seriously.

___

6 p.m.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says roughly 40 percent of registered voters have turned out so far across Connecticut to cast their ballots.

The Democrat says Tuesday’s rainy weather hasn’t hampered turnout, which is typically about 55 percent to 65 percent in midterm elections. By mid-afternoon, about 8,000 people have used Connecticut’s same-day voter registration law, which allows them to register and vote on the same day.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

Merrill says the election has been “smooth,” with the exception of damp ballots and lines in some polling places. She says most municipalities have ordered extra ballots.

Merrill says about 50,000 younger voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have registered to vote since the 2016 presidential election. That’s up from the usual 16,000 younger voters.

___

4:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is on the minds of many Connecticut voters even though he’s not on any ballots this year.

Lelaneia Dubay, of Hartford, says she is worried about Trump’s policies harming women’s and LGBTQ rights, saying the president has divided America and “we have forgotten that united we stand, divided we fall.” She voted for Democrats Tuesday.

Norwich Democrat Linda Theodoru says she voted for Democrat Ned Lamont for governor because she is also worried about women’s health, education and the environment. She says she is “so afraid” of Republicans taking control of the state Senate.

Republican voters say the election is chiefly about the state’s poor economy and high taxes under Democratic majority rule.

Hartford Republican Ken Lerman says Connecticut needs a “change in government” because taxes keep rising.

___

3:50 p.m.

Some Connecticut voters got a ride to the polls with a special chauffeur — actor Sam Waterston of “Law & Order” TV fame.

The Litchfield County resident drove some Waterbury residents to their polling places Tuesday.

Democratic congressional candidate Jahana Hayes posted video on social media showing Waterston wearing a Hayes campaign T-shirt while talking with two women. One was a first-time voter who said she didn’t know her driver was a famous actor until people started asking for his autograph at her local polling location.

Hayes, a political newcomer and former national teacher of the year , is running against Republican former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos for the 5th District seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty.

Connecticut voters also are deciding races for governor, U.S. Senate and other seats.

____

1:55 p.m.

Connecticut election officials say midmorning reports show about 22 percent of the state’s registered voters cast their ballots in the close race for governor and other contests.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office released preliminary turnout figures early Tuesday afternoon. A spokesman says Merrill is not predicting what the final turnout figure will be.

About 77 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2016 election.

Long lines at many polling places and no major voting problems were reported Tuesday morning. Turnout dropped at some locations later in the morning as heavy rains began to fall.

Polling in the governor’s race has shown Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont and Madison Republican Bob Stefanowski in a tight race for the seat being vacated by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

____

10:55 a.m.

Connecticut officials say voter turnout appears to be brisk as residents decide the state’s close battle for governor and other races.

The Secretary of the State’s Office says there were reports of long lines at many polling places Tuesday morning, but no reports of any major problems. The 2.16 million registered voters in the state is the highest number in recent memory.

At a polling place in Hartford, some Democrats said the election was about repudiating the policies and behavior of President Donald Trump. A Republican voter said Tuesday was more about state issues such as high taxes.

Polling in the governor’s race has shown Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont and Madison Republican Bob Stefanowski in a tight race for the seat being vacated by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

____

6:40 a.m.

Connecticut voters will be deciding the winner of the state’s latest close battle for governor.

Polling leading up to Tuesday’s election has shown Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont and Madison Republican Bob Stefanowski in a tight race to fill the seat being vacated by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The two-term governor narrowly won the state’s top office in 2010 and 2014.

As in those years, Connecticut continues to face fiscal challenges, including projected budget deficits and unfunded pension liabilities.

Petitioning independent candidate Oz Griebel has urged voters to vote for a team that’s not beholden to political parties.

Besides governor, there are battles for other statewide offices and the legislature. In many cases, Republicans are accusing Democrats of supporting Malloy, while Democrats have accused Republicans of backing President Donald Trump.

AP RADIO
Update hourly