Stamford voters helped drive Dem wins in state
STAMFORD — With the clock approaching midnight on Election Day, the city’s longtime state representative from District 147, William Tong, was behind in his bid to become Connecticut’s first Asian-American attorney general.
Tong’s opponent, Susan Hatfield, a state prosecutor from Pomfret, was ahead by a couple of percentage points. If Hatfield won, she would be the first Republican attorney general since 1959.
But things changed early Wednesday, when vote counts started trickling in from Stamford and the state’s other Democratic cities. Tong took the lead, and beat Hatfield by about 60,000 votes. It was one of the closest attorney general races in memory.
Stamford voters played a significant part in Tong’s win, and in the victories of the Democrats who took the offices of governor, treasurer, comptroller, and secretary of the state. They also helped give Democrats a solid majority in the Senate and boosted their advantage in the House of Representatives.
Stamford voted decidedly blue.
Numbers from the city’s registrars of voters show Stamford voted nearly 2-to-1 for Democrat Ned Lamont, a Greenwich cable TV entrepreneur who defeated Republican business executive Bob Stefanowski for the governor’s seat.
The proportions from Stamford were the same for other Democratic winners — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, Treasurer Shawn Wooden, and Comptroller Kevin Lembo.
Stamford came out big for the state’s Democratic incumbents in Washington, casting nearly 30,000 votes for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy — compared with about 12,700 for Republican challenger Matthew Corey — and nearly 29,000 votes for U.S. Rep. Jim Himes — compared with about 13,600 for Republican Harry Arora.
Like voters across the country, Stamford residents were interested in the election, even though there was no presidential contest this year.
The city’s voter rolls swelled in the run-up to Tuesday, reaching a record 70,449 registrants as of Election Day, according to information filed with the secretary of the state.
The registrars’ office reports that more than 500 people showed up at City Hall to register to vote on Election Day, another 200 registered online and 60 registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Not everyone, though, did so in time to vote.
Of the nearly 70,000 residents who made it to the polls, the largest number, about 28,600, were Democrats. The second-largest number, 26,200, were unaffiliated voters. Half that, 13,600, were Republicans.
It’s tough to be a Republican in Stamford.
Gerald Bosak Jr., who has been a member of the city’s Board of Finance and Board of Education — a total of nine years of service — ran against longtime Democratic incumbent Carlo Leone for a state Senate seat in District 27.
Bosak garnered 9,800 votes to Leone’s 20,900.
Bosak, co-owner of one of the city’s oldest businesses, Bosak Funeral Home, said he did not get flak on the campaign trail for being a Republican, despite the partisan opinions that polarize the nation, much of it centered around President Donald Trump. Bosak said he thinks it’s because he knows so many families through his business.
But another Stamford resident running for state office for the first time, Republican city Rep. Anzelmo Graziosi, said Trump was a factor in his race. Graziosi lost to Democrat newcomer Matt Blumenthal, son of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, in a race for the District 147 seat in the state House of Representatives.
Graziosi earned almost 3,400 votes; Blumenthal got 5,400.
Graziosi said Tuesday night that he ran into “an anti-Trump sentiment,” including “from lifelong Republicans who told me they could not vote for a Republican” because of the president.
But the GOP’s plight in the 2018 election is best illustrated by the race for state Senate District 36, which covers Greenwich and a sliver of Stamford.
Longtime Republican Sen. Scott Frantz, of Greenwich, was defeated by political newcomer Alexandra Bergstein, a Greenwich Democrat who garnered just under 7,000 votes in Stamford compared to Frantz’s 4,650, enabling her to edge the incumbent by 600 votes overall.
So it went in state House races down the line:
Democrat Patricia Billie Miller defeated Republican Fritz Blau, 4,600 votes to 965, in District 145.
Democrat David Michel beat Republican Dan Pannone, 5,900 votes to 2,300, in District 146.
Democrat Daniel Fox crushed Republican Philip Balestriere, 5,000 votes to 1,600, in District 148.
In District 144, Stamford Republicans did not even put up a candidate. Democratic incumbent state Rep. Caroline Simmons ran unopposed.
A bad grade
Republicans also fared poorly in the only Stamford race on the ballot — the one for three seats on the Board of Education. Part of the reason is that the ballot instructions said to vote for any three of the six candidates listed, without explaining that the board has a minority representation rule that allows no more than six of the nine school board members to be from the same party.
So only one of the three Democrats on the ballot could be seated on the board. But the largest numbers of votes went overwhelmingly to the Democrats.
Newcomer Jackie Pioli won with almost 28,000 votes.
The other two Democrats got the next-highest totals, even though they can’t be elected —incumbent David Mannis earned nearly 26,000 votes and Jon Carlo Gallup got 23,400.
To make things worse, the two incumbent GOP school board candidates, Mike Altamura and Frank Cerasoli, couldn’t be listed as Republicans. They had to run as petitioning candidates after the Stamford GOP missed a filing date. Their names appeared far down on the ballot, where some voters may have missed them.
Altamura got only 5,800 votes; Cerasoli got barely 4,200. They will remain on the board, but it was by a narrow margin.
Altamura said Tuesday night that they were nearly defeated by Green Party candidate Michael Schmidt, who was added to the ballot at the last minute and did not campaign. Schmidt earned 3,500 votes.
Stamford’s Republican Town Committee “dropped the ball,” Altamura said, and “did not do us justice.”