Tuesday, November 15, 2005

General Assembly 2006: 22 Races to Watch

Now that the final election of 2005 is behind us, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2006 and legislative races. As it is impossible to cover every race in-depth, I have selected 22 races that I’ll be highlighting over the next year. I chose the districts that were the most competitive in 2004 (and should be competitive again in 2006), but this is a list that will evolve during 2006 to include other interesting or competitive districts. This list is a starting place.


Senate 07

  • Incumbent: Sen John Kissel (R)

  • Opponent: Bill Kiner (D) (website)
  • Towns: East Granby, Enfield, Granby, Somers, Suffield, Windsor (part), Windsor Locks

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 1.64%

  • Notes: Kissel won based on his personal popularity alone in 2004. His district went heavily for Kerry. Kissel was one of the few senators to vote against civil unions in 2005.

Senate 12

  • Incumbent: Sen. Edward Meyer(D)

  • Opponent: Gregg Hannon (R) (website)

  • Towns: Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, N. Branford

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 3.16%

  • Notes: This is typically a Republican area. Meyer defeated Bill Aniskovich in an upset in 2004.

Senate 14

  • Incumbent: Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D) (website)

  • Towns: Milford, Orange, West Haven (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 3.82%

  • Notes: Slossberg defeated a GOP incumbent in 2004.

Senate 18

  • Incumbent: Sen. Cathy Cook (R)

  • Towns: Griswold, Groton, N. Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington, Voluntown

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 8.95%

  • Notes: This is a pretty weak number for such a Republican district. Cook has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Rell.

Senate 22

  • Incumbent: Sen. Bill Finch (D)(website); (blog)

  • Towns: Bridgeport (part), Monroe, Trumbull (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.96%

  • Notes: A longtime friend of Ernest Newton.

Senate 31

  • Incumbent: Sen. Tom Colapietro (D)

  • Towns: Bristol, Harwinton (part), Plainville, Plymouth

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.14%

  • Notes: Colapietro has said homosexuality is a "sickness."

House of Representatives

House 02

  • Incumbent: Rep. Hank Bielawa (R)

  • Towns: Bethel (part), Danbury (part) Redding (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 0.82% (87 votes)

  • Notes: Bielawa won because he was cross-endorsed by an Independent party. Very strange stuff. This is his second term.

House 30

  • Incumbent: Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D)

  • Opponent: Edward Pocock (R) (website)

  • Towns: Berlin (part), Southington (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.44%

  • Notes: Berlin and Southington trend Dem, probably safe. Aresimowicz defeated a GOP incumbent in 2004.

House 34

  • Incumbent: Rep. Gail Hamm (D)

  • Towns: East Hampton, Middletown (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 9.92%

  • Notes: Probably safe, although both towns are unstable for Democrats lately. Hamm irritated her constituents in East Hampton when she pushed for a law restricting development around lakes.

House 37

  • Incumbent: Rep. Ed Jutila (D)

  • Towns: East Lyme, Salem

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 8.69%

  • Notes: East Lyme is GOP, and Jutila is invisible.

House 38

  • Incumbent: Rep. Elizabeth Ritter (D)

  • Towns: Montville (part), Waterford

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 6.61%

  • Notes: Waterford is trending GOP

House 44

  • Incumbent: Rep. Michael A. Caron (R)

  • Towns: Killingly (part), Plainfield (part), Sterling

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 10.37%

  • Notes: Should at least be competitive. This part of the state is trending Democrat.

House 50

  • Incumbent: Rep. Mike Alberts (R)

  • Towns: Brooklyn, Eastford, Hampton, Pomfret, Woodstock

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 0.44% (48 votes)

  • Notes: Most endangered Republican. Defeated Democrat Reece Painter in general election, but Painter defeated Alberts in special election to fill remaining two months of term vacated by Rep. Jefferson Davis (D-Pomfret), who resigned 8/04. Very strange.

House 65

  • Incumbent: Rep. Anne Ruwet (R)

  • Towns: Torrington (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.1%

  • Notes: Ruwet’s son is Mayor Ryan Bingham of Torrington.

House 100

  • Incumbent: Rep. Raymond Kalinowski (R)

  • Towns: Durham, Middlefield, Middletown (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 2.93%

  • Notes: Durham went Dem in 2005, and the margin is small. Kalinowski served on impeachment committee in 2004.

House 101

  • Incumbent: Rep. Deborah Heinrich (D) (website)

  • Towns: Guilford (part), Madison

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 6.06%

  • Notes: Very Republican area. Heinrich defeated a longtime GOP incumbent in 2004.

House 104

  • Incumbent: Rep. Linda Gentile (D)

  • Opponent: Joseph Romano (R)
  • Towns: Ansonia (part), Derby (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.17%

  • Notes: This was an open seat in 2004, vacated by a long-serving Democrat.

House 117

  • Incumbent: Rep. Paul Davis (D)

  • Towns: Milford (part), Orange (part), West Haven (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.73%

  • Notes: Milford and Orange trend Republican. Davis is one of the people behind the bill to make assulting umpires a felony.

House 120

  • Incumbent: Rep. John Harkins (R)

  • Towns: Stratford (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 5.81%

  • Notes: Stratford is trending Democratic following gains by Democrats in the municipal elections. Harkins has been in the news for controversial anti-illegal alien stances.

House 132

  • Incumbent: Rep. Thomas Drew (D) (website)

  • Towns: Fairfield (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 4.90%

  • Notes: Against natural gas terminal in Sound.

House 134

  • Incumbent: Rep. John "Jack" Stone (R)

  • Towns: Fairfield (part), Trumbull (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 7.88%

  • Notes: Lost the first selectman race in Fairfield to Ken Flatto. Stone was elected to a selectman's seat, but may not take it.

House 136

  • Incumbent: Rep. Joe Mioli (D)

  • Towns: Westport (part)

  • 2004 Margin of Victory: 2.77%

  • Notes: Most endangered Democrat. Defeated a GOP incumbent in 2004.

2006 is going to be an interesting election year, if the anti-incumbent mood we sensed during the municipal elections holds true. New campaign finance rules, if passed, will also complicate matters.

Remember that this list is a starting place, and that it will probably change as the situation does. Suggestions for additions or deletions are always welcome.


Dave Mooney said...

I'm in Harkins district (R-120). Got any sources on Harkins' anti-illegal alien statements?

Genghis Conn said...

Just a few things, nothing outrageous or crazy.

Rep. Harkins To Reintroduce Public Safety Legislation As Amendment

...Stratford Republican John Harkins put it a little more baldly: ``I don't want to be the one to have to go back to my constituency and explain why their son or daughter will not be able to attend university because someone who is an illegal alien has taken their spot,'' he said.
Ubinas, Helen. "Hurtful Words Taint Debate." Hartford Courant 26 May, 2005. (no link)

"Rep. John Harkins, R-Stratford, a member of the Banks Committee, wondered whether the states with the highest number of identity fraud cases -- California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas -- have problems linked with illegal immigration."
Dixon, Ken. "Legislators take aim at identity theft." Connecticut Post 27 April, 2005. (no link)

'"It does not seem unreasonable to require a person to be a lawful resident of our state to obtain a driver's license for the term they are allowed to stay in this country," [Harkins] said.'

"Briefs from the State Capitol." Hartford Courant 28 April, 2005. (no link)

Whenever Harkins pops up in LexisNexis, it's about illegal immigration.

Anonymous said...

You have the 12th Senatorial District incorrect- It's represented by Ed Meyer, not Tom Gaffey.

Genghis Conn said...

You're right, anonymous, I was looking at District 13, for some reason. District 13 isn't interesting at all (except for Gaffey's CRRA thing).

Anonymous said...

16the Senate will be vacant, it was formerly a R seat

Genghis Conn said...

Senate 16 is Chris Murphy. He won in 2004 by 22%.

It will probably be vacant, but that's not clear yet.

ctkeith said...

Ed Meyer will be boosted by having Dem control of both Branford and Guilford Town Halls this election.

Republicans got spanked and lost control in both these towns and their party leadership is standing on legs that need double knee replacement.

Gabe said...

Genghis - I agree with you that the Seante 12th is historically a Republican district, but in the 2005 election four of the six towns, Guilford, Branford, Killingworth, and Durham, went Democratic and the other two, Madison and North Branford, were very close races.

My prediction? Senate 12th comes off your list before long and Ed Meyer wins in a walk.

Here is his official website, here is his campaign site from '04, and I have it on high authority that the '06 site will be up soon.

Gabe said...

Sorry Keith, you beat me to it!

Genghis Conn said...

From what I remember, there was a very strong push made by Democrats to get rid of Aniskovich, who was tainted by the Rowland scandal (Rowland appointed his wife to head the state tourism office).

If the 12th is trending Democratic (you're both right, it seems to be), then this one may turn into a safe seat. We'll see who the GOP puts up against him: that will tell us a lot about how they see this district.

Aldon Hynes said...

I think the big question that this doesn’t address is who the challengers will be. That is perhaps the most important factor in determining how close the race will be. Since we don’t know that yet, I’m going to just add a few observations about races that I’m likely to be following or have some particular knowledge or interest in.

Senate 12: Guilford and Brandford are trending Democratic; look at the turnovers in the municipals. Ed Meyer is great. He will be hard to unseat. However, I’ve heard that someone from the Family Institute is targeting him.

Senate 14: This district is mostly in Milford, and the Milford Dems are on the move. They picked up a few seats in the Board of Alderman, and depending on a recount, could actually take control of the board. Gayle is very well liked. On the other hand, a small part of the district is in Orange, where the incumbent Democrat was defeated. I think Gayle will probably be safe.

Senate 18: I believe that the closeness of the race was due to Andy Maynard’s strength. He was a great candidate that got a lot of progressive support. If Andy runs again, or someone as strong as Andy runs, it is a good chance of a pickup.

Senate 22: From what I’ve seen, Bill Finch looks safe. He is well liked. He’s got a blog, but it lacks an RSS feed, so I don’t track it closely. He friendly with everyone, and I doubt his friendship with Newton will mean much. He’s also friends with Gomes. Again, I don’t see this as a likely pickup.

House 2: Jason Barlett came with 87 votes in 2004. In 2002, he was 463 votes out. Will this be the charm? The Democrats are looking stronger in Danbury but had a weak showing in Bethel. Jason has a chance, but it will be tough. Hard to tell if someone else runs.

House 44: I would love to see someone take on Caron. He has been an obnoxious opponent of campaign finance reform. However, I don’t know if Ferdland will run again, or if there will be some other strong candidate.

House 101: As noted above, Guilford is trending Democratic. Deb is a great State Rep. I can imagine the Republicans want to take her on, but I think she’ll put a great battle

House 120: Stratford is another place where the Democrats are doing well. Harkins should be nervous.

House 132: Drew seems to be really well liked. The Dems in Fairfield remain well organized and I don’t think opposition to the natural gas terminal will hurt Tom. I think Tom is probably pretty safe.

House 133: You didn’t mention this seat, but Tymniak hasn’t had an opponent for a few cycles. I’m hearing rumors that there may be an opponent, and this could be a fun race to watch.

House 134: A lot of people were watching Stone’s race against Flatto. He may be weakened by the race, and whatever he decides to do with the selectman’s seat it will probably be used against him.

House 136: Will we see another Bernhard-Mioli rematch? Berhard won in 2002, Mioli won in 2004. Both races were close. It should be interesting to watch.

Genghis Conn said...


This list will definitely change when we get some sense of who the opposition is putting up against the incumbents.

My own thoughts on the Senate 07 race: Bill Kiner, who was the Democratic candidate, was well-liked and well-known, especially in Enfield. A rematch would be very, very interesting. The district is a mix of moderate-to-liberal towns like Enfield and very conservative ones like Granby and Suffield.

Anonymous said...

06 is a gubernatorial election cycle in which Democratic performance statewide is lower. One of the main reasons why Meyer, Heinrich, Mioli won is that Dems turnout in Presidential election cycles. If they have done their constituent work, they can weather a more Republican leaning election cycle.

DeanFan84 said...


Re: Senate 31, You say that State Senator Tom Colapietro called homosexuality a "sickness". But the Family Institute of CT, (that hate-mongering group), lists Colapietro as having voted in support of Civil Unions.


Can someone clear us this seeming contradiction? Is Colapietro about to get hit from both sides?

Genghis Conn said...

Colapietro apparently has always supported civil unions. A quote:

"Sen. Thomas Colapietro, a Democrat, referred to homosexuality as "a sickness" in an article published Saturday in the Bristol Press on the legislature's debate over same-sex marriage and civil unions...

"On Monday, Colapietro said he used the wrong word, but still believes that homosexuality may be the result of a chemical imbalance. The legislator said he bases that belief on information he once heard from a physician...

"I feel bad that using the word sickness upset people like it did. It wasn't meant to hurt anybody's feelings," he said. "It's meant to show that I have high hopes of this becoming a curable thing."

"Colapietro said he has always supported civil unions. He said he also has gay friends and relatives."

From "Briefs from the state Capitol." Associated Press State and Local Wire 14 February, 2005.

DeanFan84 said...

Fascinating, so Colapietro is stupid enough to refer to homosexuality as a "sickness", but smart enough to vote for the Civil Union legislation. Thanks Genghis!

Does anyone think that votes for, or against, the Civil Union bills will cost anyone a seat in 2006? It seems this legislation, surprisingly, has been enacted without much of a backlash....

MikeCT said...

Another seat to watch - Rep. Bob Farr's in West Hartford (19th). However, the tightness will depend entirely on the strength of the opposition. The last two candidates have not been very strong, but in 2000, Jonathan Harris (now State Senator) came very close to beating him (I think about 40 votes). I have heard that there have been similar close races in earlier years. Farr is a little safer now since the new district includes more of Republican-leaning Avon & Farmington.

Does anyone think that votes for, or against, the Civil Union bills will cost anyone a seat in 2006?

I don't think support of civil unions will be a problem for candidates, since 80% of candidate endorsed by Love Makes a Family PAC in the 2004 elections won (they targeted races where one candidate opposed civil unions), many Republicans voted for civil unions (including Rell), and polls indicate strong public support. Opposition to civil unions may cause problems for some candidates, for the same reasons. (I think these are the House & Senate vote tallies.)

Anonymous said...

Go Bill Finch!

Dave Mooney said...

Rep Harkins (R-Stratford) in 120 opposed Civil Unions. The people who voted against him last time probably support civil unions, and the few swing voters who pushed him over the top probably don't consider it an top issue. I doubt it will have a vote-getting impact on him but it may energize some of the D base to work against him. It will probably have marginal electoral impact at most.

Anonymous said...

As for civil unions, I doubt they will have any impact on the election. The Family Institute will be yelling about them, but their PAC record is dismal and they have a horrible track record at how they spend their money. They are already backing someone against Meyer in the 12th. Their past candidates have seen their opponents (Lawlor, McDonald, and Murphy) go on to win in record numbers.

As for Love Makes a Family, I can't imagine them focusing on civil unions as they were mainly focused on marriage to begin with.

I think it will actually be a great distinction with one group pulling for marriage and the other pulling from civil union. Of course Love Makes a Family outraised and outspent the Family Institute and had a VERY high winning percentage with many wins coming from first termers...all of the Family Institutes were with incumbents.

Beat Shays said...

The Harris Race was nine votes. But the key thing about that was the district was all in WH. The district now has larger bits of Avon and Farmington. Could go Dem if open, not with Farr

Beat Shays said...

The 19th was 9 votes in 2000 but got alterterd dramatically in re-districting. The seat could switch if open not with Farr

Anonymous said...

House 132: not all that clear that Drew will get re-upped as the tax & spend Dems in Fairfield are losing their edge evidenced by their poor showing in the local RTM race earlier in the month - a number of his supporters were ousted by fresh faces from the GOP the

Anonymous said...

House 134: Stone's poor showing against Flatto for First Selectman, who was vulnerable on a number of fronts, earlier this month hurt him. His own party is even rumbling it is time for a change rather than risk losing the seat to a Flatto Democrat - possible primary challenge in the works.

Julius C said...

A few observations from the "right" side of the CT political spectrum...

Extrapolating 2004 results into 2006 races risks mistaking the fact that presidential and non-presidential years are so different in character in most CT districts as to be two different elections. Areas that had 80% turnout will have 60% and those with 60% will have 40%.

There is a reason why a CT strategy for R's is "win it in a non-presidential - hold it through a presidential."

That said, this year may end up being an unusually bad one for us R's if this election "nationalizes" like 1994 did. I'm holding my breath and waiting for the May/June numbers for Johnson, Shays and Simmons...

On some of the races mentioned...


Don't so casually write off this race in favor of Meyer. I've met the announced R and - far from being a "one issue" candidate, he has a pretty good range and an excellent political mind. Furthermore, although the 2005 races trended Dem, the party registration figures have remained steady. 2005 was more about incumbents (of every stripe) getting kicked around then R's or D's.


East Lyme is listed as a "GOP Town", but I'm sure the local D's (who have a registration advantage) would disagree. I think the East Lyme GOP is on the comeback trail, but that will be seen this year. There are two good Republican possibilities for the seat - either could stage a tough run.

Waterford is trending Republican, but that is because of the strength of the candidates put forth in the last two years (Paul Suprin - the R House candidate from 2004 - would have won hands down in a non-presidential year) and the work of the local RTC. It is important to remember that the Waterford D's are still holding a 1000+ local registration advantage, Ritter is a hard campaigner and the Dems in the region know exactly how important it will be for them to hold on to this seat. A lot depends on who the GOP gets to run against her...

And not on your list...

39th House
This seat is entirely within the City of New London (home of Kelo and Eminent Domain) and is more than 5 to 1 Democrat by registration. However, the local Dems nearly lost control of the city government to an alliance of GOP and 3rd party candidates in 2005. If the challenger groups can pull off a working alliance expect this race to be VERY interesting to watch...

Since you've gone Genghis...I'll go...


P.S. Not sure what you meant about the impact of the new financing scheme on 2006...those laws don't take effect until 2007...

Anonymous said...

House 83rd was won in a special election by a small margin, so Rep. Abercrombie will have an interesting race...

Anonymous said...

I think you need to look at three New Britain seats: Senate 6 (Defronzo), House 24 (O'Brien), and House 26 (Tercyak). All three are very liberal pro-union Dems, but in New Britain, the conservative Dems have been known to team-up with the Republicans. (see 2005 municipal)

Kerr said...

I would add a couple of races to the list:

1. Senate 16 - this is an open seat. Chris Murphy leaves it to run for Congress. Rep. John 'Corky' Mazurek (D-Wolcott) filed to run for the seat. Both Republican Reps. Selim Noujaim (R-Waterbury) and Al Adinolfi (R-Cheshire) live within the 16th. Both Republicans have refiled to run for state rep, but may emerge to run for the 16th.

2. Senate 5 - Jonathan Harris will face tough opposition if Bob Farr decides to enter the race. The 5th includes Burlington and Farmington (both went for Johnson in 04) and could offset Dem strongholds in West Hartford and Bloomfield.