The major party candidates are Democrat Henry Genga and Republican Stephanie Labanowski, both of whom currently serve on the town council. This race really hasn't made headlines, even in East Hartford, because it comes on a Monday in the dead of winter. Bad weather tomorrow will probably hold the turnout down even more.
One thing that's interesting about this sleepy race is the fact that the chairman of the state GOP has seen fit to involve himself in a spat between the candidates:
n a press release, Republican State Party Chairman George Gallo accused Town Councilman Henry J. Genga and his campaign of "several instances of intimidation and dirty political tricks" against Councilwoman Stephanie L. Labanowski, the Republican candidate, and her supporters. Some of the intimidation included "anonymous phone calls to the candidate and one veiled threat to a business owner," Gallo said.
Gallo said the state Republican Party will continue to support Labanowski and monitor the situation to report or prevent future incidents. Republicans did not provide further information about the incidents.
"It is shameful that something like this happens in today's world, but the sad fact is Henry Genga has nothing to say to the voters of East Hartford and Stephanie Labanowski is being heard by the people of her district," Gallo said in the press release. (Stuart)
Allegations of harassment and intimidation aside, the fact that Gallo got involved at all (especially in a district lost by the GOP candidate by more than 50 percentage points in 2004) suggests that the GOP may be more forceful in contesting races this year than they have been lately. Gallo has already proved himself to be a tough campaigner: he was Rowland's campaign manager in 2002 and helped defeat Alex Knopp in Norwalk this past November. Could the state Republican Party be showing some signs of life, after all?
That aside, history and demographics (Republicans are heavily outnumbered in the district) suggest that Genga will win handily, although special elections can get a little strange. I'll post results when I see them.
Stuart, Christine. Republicans cry 'dirty tricks'; Democrats say 'not us'." Journal-Inquirer 20 January, 2006.