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EDlection2018: Behind Lamont, Connecticut Dems Make Midterm Legislative Gains

By Kevin Mahnken | November 7, 2018

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EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Democrats in Connecticut enjoyed a banner evening (and early morning), winning control over the state Senate and expanding their majority in the state House of Representatives. Given Democrat Ned Lamont’s victory in the governor’s race over Republican nominee Bob Stefanowski, the party will move forward with unified control over state government.

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Entering Tuesday night, Democrats held a 70-61 majority in the House, which had dwindled persistently since a high-water mark of 114-37 after the 2008 election. The Senate was tied. Today, depending on the results of three planned recounts, Democrats could command a 32-seat edge in the House while boasting at least 23 out of 36 Senate seats. That’s more than broad enough to allow Lamont to enact his agenda for schools, business, and public finance.

To bolster their numbers, the Democrats won seats that hadn’t been competitive in a century: Republican Rep. Mike Bocchino lost to Democrat Stephen Meskers in his Greenwich-based district, which had been held by the GOP since 1912. The city’s 36th Senate District also flipped blue for the first time since 1930 as Alexandra Bergstein defeated incumbent Sen. L. Scott Frantz.

WIth some breathing room, Lamont may be able to escape the deadlock that has plagued incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy, who has endured several rounds of white-knuckle budget negotiations in recent years as Connecticut’s intractable budget mess has forced cuts to municipal aid. The governor-elect has promised to navigate toward calmer fiscal waters by gaining concessions from public employees on their retirement benefits, and winning greater support in Hartford could strengthen his hand.

At the same time, though, Democrats will now have to square some big campaign spending promises with a very constrained reality. Lamont pledged to fully fund the state’s Education Cost Sharing fund and hire more teachers, social workers, and school counselors. It remains to be seen whether even his larger majorities can make that math work for him.

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EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

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