Conn. GOP looking to pick up State Senate seats

- FILE - The Connecticut Senate Chamber (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — While all eyes will be on the final presidential debate Wednesday night, as Election Day approaches, it’s also important to pay attention to the race to control the General Assembly here in Connecticut. All 36 State Senate seats and all 151 State Representative seats are on the ballot on Nov. 8th.

Some state legislators are running unopposed and that’s not unusual. But there are also a number of state legislative races that are very competitive and those races will determine who controls the General Assembly next year and how decisions are made concerning taxes and spending.

Like in Washington, the races being most closely watched here in Connecticut are in the State Senate. Democrats hold a 21 to 15 majority. If the Republicans can hold those 15 and pick up four they would control the Senate. It is believed that nine State Senate seats are competitive races and four of those races are either on, or close to the shoreline.

“In order to change what’s happening in Connecticut we have to change who we send to Hartford, and it means Republicans being in charge.” said Connecticut State Republican Chairman J.R. Romano.

Romano believes Republican candidates can capitalize on the unpopularity of Gov. Malloy at the ballot box. 

“If you’re upset at Dan Malloy you should be upset at your local elected Democrat that’s voted with him 90-some-odd percent of the time and that’s a fact,” says Romano.

One of the districts being targeted by Republicans is the one currently held by Sen. Dante Bartolomeo. She won by narrow margins in the past two elections. She’s challenged again by former Republican Senator Len Suzio. The district includes Meriden, Middletown, Middlefield and Cheshire.

And the district held for 12 terms by Democrat Joe Crisco includes Hamden, Woodbridge and several towns in the Naugatuck Valley. He’s being opposed by 47-year-old George Logan, an engineer with the Aquarion Water Company who has deep community service roots in the area.

But Malloy counters that efforts by Democrats to secure work at Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky has meant an improving jobs outlook despite slow national economic growth.

“I will remind Republicans that we’ve created 18,000 jobs in the state of Connecticut in the last 12 months,” the Governor said.

Democrats have an 87 to 64 seat majority in the Connecticut House. It would take 12 wins for the Republicans to take control here which seems unlikely. But the Republican Chairman thinks the popularity of Donald Trump in places like the Naugatuck Valley could help them win some House seats.

Considered most vulnerable by both parties is State Rep. Theresa Conroy, one of the rare Democratic elected officials in the Naugatuck Valley. She is being challenged by Seymour Deputy First Selectwoman Nicole Klarides-Ditria, the sister of House Republican Leader Themis Klarides.

“Those wins and losses will be based on local issues…I’ve told Democrats that they should be running on their record. They should be proud that crime is down and  education is up,” said Malloy.

You get to decide if the Governor or the Republican Chairman is right on this. Over the next week we’ll take a closer look at the issues and the candidates in those competitive Connecticut races.

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