Frantz, Bergstein battle in close 36th District race

November 7, 2018

The closely watched race between Republican incumbent L. Scott Frantz and Democratic challenger Alexandra Bergstein for the seat in the 36th Senate District was undecided late into Election night, with neither candidate claiming victory as results came in.

Frantz won Greenwich by close to 1,300 votes, but Bergstein appeared to pull even and potentially slightly ahead on the strength of results in the parts of the district that extend into Stamford and New Canaan. Results were unofficial, and absentee ballots were yet to be counted.

“We’re going to have to wait until late this night or even into tomorrow morning to know the results,” Frantz said at Republican Town Committee headquarters in Greenwich.

For late results, visit greenwichtime.com.

Bergstein said Tuesday evening that she was pleased with her campaign and those of her Democratic running mates. “We have run incredible races, I’m so proud,” she said.

In recent weeks, Democrats in the district viewed the race as a chance to break a nearly 90-year Republican hold on the seat. The matter was of increased significance this year as each party sought to gain control of a state Senate evenly divided at 18-18.

The last Democrat elected to the 36th state Senate District was H. Allen Barton in 1930, and Frantz had been easily elected to his five previous terms in the office.

But Bergstein ran an aggressive campaign that captured attention not often focused on the taken-for-granted district. In the closing weeks, she challenged Frantz on issues including gun safety laws and women’s health. She questioned his leadership of a bipartisan group of legislators who fashioned the post-Sandy Hook gun laws, among the toughest in the nation, and criticized his support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

Frantz responded in ads and mailers, stressing his role in crafting the legislation and his support for the final package while claiming Bergstein did not understand the state’s legislative process.

Frantz, as he has in the past, focused on economic issues throughout the campaign, pointing to reforms — including spending and bonding caps — he and other Republicans had been able to get into the two-year bipartisan budget passed earlier this year.

Frantz criticized Bergstein’s proposals to reintroduce tolls to state highways and move the state’s pension obligation to a shared-risk plan as impractical.

The issue of tolls weighed heavily on the campaign, with Frantz saying they would amount to another tax, burdening state residents who already pay a high gas tax, while Bergstein noted Connecticut is the only state in the region without highway tolls, allowing out-of-state drivers to use Connecticut roads for free.

Calling herself a “different kind of Democrat,” Bergstein said she would work outside of Hartford’s two-party system, while Frantz kept his experience in office and expertise on the economy at the center of his run.

Update hourly