This diary will discuss the races in all 36 State Senate districts in Connecticut. Democrats currently control the chamber 22-14, and control is not going to change. The question is, can Democrats pick up any seats to increase their majority, and if possible get a two-thirds majority? It may be possible.
For each seat, I will discuss the geography of the seat, the candidates, the demographic breakdown, the Obama-McCain numbers (which are approximate; I drew the map in DRA, but not all the precincts lined up exactly), and changes that happened in redistricting, if any.
Here is a link to the adopted map: http://www.cga.ct.gov/...
Contains the southern half of Hartford, and most of Wethersfield.
Pres-2008: Obama 79-21
Demographics: 36% White, 16% Black, 43% Hispanic
This is the most Hispanic Senate seat in Connecticut. Despite that, it is represented by John Fonfara (D), who is white. He is being challenged by Barbara Ruhe, who also challenged him in 2010. He got 76% then, the only question now is whether or not he will get 80%.
Contains the northern half of Hartford, most of Windsor, and most of Bloomfield.
Pres-2008: Obama 86-14
Demographics: 30% White, 51% Black, 14% Hispanic
This is the only majority-black district in Connecticut, and the incumbent, Eric Coleman (D), is one of the three African-Americans in the State Senate. He was unchallenged in 2010, but has a token challenger now in Malvi Garcia Lennon. However, Coleman might as well not be challenged, because he is completely safe.
Contains East Hartford, South Windsor, East Windsor, and most of Ellington.
Pres-2008: Obama 66-33
Demographics: 67% White, 13% Black, 13% Hispanic
This district, in the eastern and northeastern suburbs of Hartford, is represented by Gary LeBeau (D). It is based in the large, diverse, and very Democratic town of East Hartford, which has more than half of the district’s population. LeBeau got 64% in 2010, and is being challenged by Hector Reveron. LeBeau will probably do better than that this year.
Contains Manchester, Glastonbury, Bolton, and Andover.
Pres-2008: Obama 63-36
Demographics: 79% White, 7% Black, 7% Hispanic
This district in the eastern suburbs of Hartford, is based in Manchester, which has more than half of the district’s population. Its current incumbent, first-term Sen. Steve Cassano (D), won the seat in an incredibly close election in 2010, winning by fewer than 100 votes. Cassano’s 2010 challenger, Stewart “Chip” Beckett, apparently decided against a rematch, because Cassano’s Republican opponent is Cheri Ann Pelletier. This seat changed slightly in redistricting, losing Marlborough and gaining Andover. Cassano has had two years to entrench himself, but seeing as his first election was so close, this seat cannot be taken for granted.
Contains West Hartford, Burlington, most of Farmington, and parts of Bloomfield.
Pres-2008: Obama 65-34
Demographics: 81% White, 5% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat, in the western suburbs of Hartford, is based in the reliably Democratic bastion of West Hartford, home to the largest Jewish community in Connecticut. Openly lesbian, first-term Sen. Beth Bye (D) won 62% in 2010 and is unchallenged this year.
Contains New Britain, Berlin, and a part of Farmington.
Pres-2008: Obama 67-32
Demographics: 64% White, 8% Black, 24% Hispanic
This seat had an interesting 2011. Its previous incumbent resigned early that year to take a job in the Malloy Administration. It then had a special election, which was interesting because it involved Timothy Stewart, the Republican mayor of New Britain (a very Democratic city, and home to three quarters of the district’s population) running against a former state representative, Theresa Gerratana (D). Although some doomsayers predicted a Stewart win, the district stayed true to form and elected Gerratana. The district will probably have a much more boring 2012, as Gerratana is running for re-election and is being challenged by Dwight F. Blint. Unless something cataclysmic happens, Gerratana will win a full term.
Contains Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks, East Granby, and parts of Windsor and Granby.
Pres-2008: Obama 56-42
Demographics: 85% White, 6% Black, 5% Hispanic
This seat, based in the northern suburbs of Hartford along the Massachusetts border, has been represented for many years by John Kissel (R), who has a (relatively well-earned) reputation as a moderate. However, Kissel’s past few re-elections have all been quite close. In 2010, Kissel was challenged by Karen Jarmoc, a state representative from Enfield (the largest town in the district), and won only 51-49. Jarmoc is back this year for a rematch. Will she finally knock off Kissel, in a year that will be more Democratic than 2010?
Contains several northwestern suburbs of Hartford, including Simsbury, Avon, and Torrington.
Pres-2008: Obama 54-45
Demographics: 92% White, 1% Black, 3% Hispanic
This district, in the northwestern suburbs of Hartford, has long been represented by Republicans. Its current incumbent is two-term Sen. Kevin Witkos (R), of Canton. Witkos has apparently entrenched himself pretty well in that time, winning 65% in 2010 and losing only Norfolk. Witkos’s Democratic opponent is Daniel J. Seger, also of Canton. Witkos seems like quite a popular senator, and I really don’t see him losing.
Contains Newington, Rocky Hill, and Cromwell, and parts of Wethersfield and Middletown.
Pres-2008: Obama 63-36
Demographics: 82% White, 6% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat, in the southern suburbs of Hartford, is represented by Paul Doyle (D). Doyle won 61% in 2010, and he is being challenged by Joe “D” Dinunzio. Interesting fact: Doyle’s 2010 challenger also had a very Italian-sounding name. However, that’s not going to help the challengers; Doyle has a well-earned reputation as a moderate, and he will cruise.
Contains the western half of New Haven, and the northern half of West Haven.
Pres-2008: Obama 89-11
Demographics: 35% White, 38% Black, 19% Hispanic
This seat, by a very narrow margin, is the most Democratic Senate seat in Connecticut. As we move down to New Haven, we also find the second seat represented by an African-American, in this case Toni Harp (D). Harp was unchallenged in 2010, and she is unchallenged this year as well.
Contains the eastern half of New Haven, and parts of Hamden and North Haven.
Pres-2008: Obama 73-26
Demographics: 61% White, 13% Black, 19% Hispanic
This seat, taking in half of New Haven and parts of its inner suburbs, is represented by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney (D). In redistricting, it gained the most Democratic precinct in North Haven, probably to satisfy Sen. Len Fasano (who we will get to in due course), who was on the redistricting committee. Anyway, Looney got 78% in 2010, and is unchallenged this year.
Contains some eastern and coastal suburbs of New Haven.
Pres-2008: Obama 58-42
Demographics: 93% White, 1% Black, 3% Hispanic
This seat, based in the eastern suburbs of New Haven along Long Island Sound, and including Branford and Guilford, is currently represented by Sen. Edward Meyer (D). Meyer defeated a Republican incumbent in 2004 and has won elections relatively easily ever since. However, in 2010 he faced a close race, winning only 52-48 against Lisa Davenport. This year, his opponent is Cindy Cartier. Barring a scandal or a red wave, Meyer should win, but a loss cannot be ruled out.
Contains Meriden, Middlefield, and parts of Cheshire and Middletown.
Pres-2008: Obama 64-35
Demographics: 74% White, 6% Black, 16% Hispanic
This seat, based in central Connecticut and including Meriden and some of Middletown, has had an interesting past few years. Its longtime Senator, Tom Gaffey (D), was accused of corruption in 2010 and won only 58% that year against Len Suzio (R). In early 2011, Gaffey’s corruption was shown to be much worse than it previously appeared, and he was forced to resign. In the resulting special election, Suzio scored a huge upset and won the seat. This seat is now, by far, the most Democratic Senate seat in Connecticut held by a Republican, and therefore it is a top target for Democrats this year. Democrats nominated Dante Bartolomeo, a councilmember from Meriden. I personally believe that Suzio’s election was a fluke, a result of backlash against Gaffey’s corruption. Although incumbency matters in Connecticut (more so than in most other states), I believe that Bartolomeo has the edge.
LEAN DEM, DEM PICKUP
Contains Milford, Orange, and parts of West Haven and Woodbridge.
Pres-2008: Obama 55-43
Demographics: 84% White, 4% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat, based in Milford and including some nearby towns, is represented by Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D), a moderate. Slossberg won a respectable 55% in 2010, and she is being challenged this year by Michael DeGrego. While not completely safe, it would take a lot for Slossberg to lose.
Contains most of Waterbury and parts of Naugatuck and Middlebury.
Pres-2008: Obama 61-37
Demographics: 56% White, 15% Black, 24% Hispanic
This seat is based in the city of Waterbury and includes small parts of two nearby towns. It has been represented for a long time by moderate Sen. Joan Hartley, who is very popular. Hartley was not challenged by a Republican in 2010, and she is not being challenged this time either.
Contains Southington, Wolcott, Prospect, and parts of Waterbury and Cheshire.
Pres-2008: Obama 51-47
Demographics: 84% White, 5% Black, 8% Hispanic
This seat, based in the towns in between New Britain and Waterbury, has probably had the most Senators of any district in Connecticut over the past ten years. This was Chris Murphy’s old district, and he beat a Republican incumbent in 2002 to win it. Then, when Murphy ran for the House, this district was won by Sam Caligiuri, a Republican. Caligiuri ran for the House against Murphy in 2010 (and lost), and the seat was won by Joe Markley, another Republican. That’s four Senators in one seat in a decade. The district was made more Republican in redistricting by adding Prospect, but Markley is being challenged by John “Corky” Mazurek (D), a former state representative who could win or do respectably in Wolcott, a very Republican town. Mazurek was very narrowly defeated in 2010 by only 45 votes out of more than 9,000 cast. While the district leans Republican, Mazurek is a pretty good candidate for the Dems, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, but for now Markley has the edge.
Contains areas in between Waterbury and New Haven.
Pres-2008: Obama 60-39
Demographics: 74% White, 12% Black, 9% Hispanic
This seat, containing most of the lower Naugatuck Valley as well as some northwestern suburbs of New Haven, has no dominant town, unlike many other districts. It has been represented for many years by Sen. Joe Crisco (D). Crisco got a respectable 58% in 2010, and this year he lucked out as he is not being challenged.
Contains some areas of eastern and southeastern Connecticut.
Pres-2008: Obama 57-42
Demographics: 87% White, 3% Black, 4% Hispanic
This seat is in the southeastern corner of the state, and politically it is based in the towns of Groton and Stonington, the latter of which is the hometown of Sen. Andrew Maynard (D). Maynard, who is openly gay, defeated a Republican incumbent in 2006 and has held the seat with relative ease ever since, getting 60% in 2010. This year he is being challenged by Theresa Madonna (R), of Griswold. Maynard is popular, and I would be shocked and stunned if he was even close to losing.
Contains Norwich and some other areas of east-central Connecticut.
Pres-2008: Obama 58-40
Demographics: 80% White, 5% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat is really a mishmash of towns that didn’t fit neatly into any of the surrounding districts. Its largest and dominant town is Norwich. It has been represented since 1994 by octogenarian Edith Prague (D) (In Connecticut, to “pull an Edith Prague” is to stay in a political office until you are extremely old). However, Prague has finally decided to retire, and a marquee race is shaping up to succeed her. On the Republican side is representative Christopher Coutu, who defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2008, of all years. Coutu was originally planning to challenge Joe Courtney for his Congressional seat, but then moved down to the State Senate when Prague announced that she was retiring. In a way, I wish that Coutu had stayed in the Congressional race, where he would have been destroyed by Courtney, thereby hopefully ending his political career quickly. On the Democratic side, there is a primary: the two candidates are Tom Reynolds of Ledyard and Catherine Osten of Sprague. Coutu is a strong candidate, and Connecticut voters are no strangers to ticket-splitting, however the district leans Democratic, and the Dems are no pushovers.
Contains most of western New London County.
Pres-2008: Obama 62-37
Demographics: 79% White, 6% Black, 9% Hispanic
This seat is based in New London County west of the Thames River, and it includes the town of New London. It is currently represented by Andrea Stillman (D), who won 63% in 2010. Stillman is being challenged this year by Mike Doyle (R). Stillman’s popularity, combined with the Democratic nature of the district, make this almost impossible for Republicans to win.
Contains Shelton, most of Stratford, and parts of Monroe and Seymour.
Pres-2008: Obama 51-48
Demographics: 84% White, 5% Black, 7% Hispanic
This seat, based in areas east and northeast of Bridgeport, is represented by first-term Sen. Kevin Kelly (R). Kelly won 67% in 2010, winning at least 64% in every town. Perhaps seeing the futility of trying to unseat him, the Democrats did not field a candidate here.
Contains Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe.
Pres-2008: Obama 60-39
Demographics: 63% White, 15% Black, 17% Hispanic
This seat is a very polarized seat. It contains the Republican suburban towns of Trumbull and Monroe, and then part of heavily Democratic Bridgeport. It is currently represented by two-term Sen. Anthony Musto (D), of Trumbull. In 2010, he won only 54%, losing Trumbull and Monroe but winning heavily in Bridgeport. Musto is being challenged this year by Chadwick Ciocci (R). Seeing as Bridgeport’s turnout will be up significantly this year compared to 2010, I don’t see how Musto would lose.
Contains most of Bridgeport and a part of Stratford.
Pres-2008: Obama 89-11
Demographics: 18% White, 36% Black, 39% Hispanic
This extremely Democratic, urban seat will be a snoozefest in the general election but has a very exciting Democratic primary. The incumbent, Edwin Gomes (D), was not renominated. Instead the nomination went to former St. Sen. Ernest Newton II, whose jail sentence for corruption recently ended. Additionally, St. Rep. Andres Ayala Jr. is running. There is a racial aspect to all this: Gomes and Newton are both African-American, while Ayala is Hispanic. A token Republican, Caz Mizera, is running here, but for all intents and purposes this election will be decided in the Democratic primary.
Contains Danbury and a few surrounding towns.
Pres-2008: Obama 56-44
Demographics: 67% White, 5% Black, 19% Hispanic
This seat is based in Danbury and also contains New Fairfield, Sherman, and part of Bethel. It is currently represented by two-term Sen. Michael McLachlan (R). McLachlan won 59% in 2010. McLachlan’s Democratic opponent is Jason Bartlett, another former state representative who lost narrowly in 2010. Working against McLachlan is that Bartlett has campaigning experience; Danbury’s Democrats will turn out much more in 2012 than they did in 2010; and McLachlan is one of the most conservative members of the State Senate, which is not a good thing in Connecticut even for a Republican. Working in McLachlan’s favor is that he is the incumbent, and as I said earlier, incumbency really means something in Connecticut, especially in the state senate. I would give McLachlan a small edge.
Contains Norwalk and the northern half of Darien.
Pres-2008: Obama 62-37
Demographics: 63% White, 11% Black, 20% Hispanic
This seat takes in the entirety of Norwalk and more than half of Darien. It is currently represented by Sen. Bob Duff (D), who got 64% in 2010. Duff is being challenged by Jack Chiaramonte (R). Duff is very popular in Norwalk, and he will win easily.
Contains central Fairfield County.
Pres-2008: Obama 56-43
Demographics: 91% White, 1% Black, 4% Hispanic
This seat takes in the geographic center of Fairfield County as it stretches from the Danbury suburbs to the coast. Its incumbent is Sen. Toni Boucher (R), who, for reasons that I only slightly know, is my least disliked Republican state senator in Connecticut. She got 61% in 2010, and only came close in one town, Westport. This year, she is being challenged by Carolanne Curry (D). She gained more of Weston but lost a precinct of Westport in redistricting, so that was basically a wash. Boucher will probably win easily.
Contains part of Stamford and the southern half of Darien.
Pres-2008: Obama 66-34
Demographics: 51% White, 14% Black, 25% Hispanic
This seat is based in Stamford and also contains a small part of Darien. Its current incumbent, Carlo Leone (D), won a special election here in 2011 after the previous incumbent took a job in the Malloy Administration. Leone is being challenged by Barry Michelson (R). This is a safe Democratic seat, and Leone will win.
Contains Fairfield and other northwestern suburbs of Bridgeport.
Pres-2008: Obama 55-44
Demographics: 90% White, 2% Black, 4% Hispanic
Ugh. John McKinney. The incredibly annoying Senate Minority Leader represents this district based in Fairfield. Sadly, McKinney is highly popular in his district, winning with 67% in 2010. Democrats didn’t even put up a candidate here this year, and I believe this was the CT Democrats’ biggest recruiting fail this year. At least put up someone to challenge McKinney, and keep him in his district rather than helping out other Republicans. Oh, well.
Contains Mansfield, Windham, and other northeast Connecticut towns.
Pres-2008: Obama 63-35
Demographics: 83% White, 3% Black, 9% Hispanic
This seat, one of two Quiet Corner seats, is represented by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams (D). The seat is based in the two heavily Democratic towns of Mansfield and Windham, home to UConn and ECSU respectively, and Williams is well known for bringing home the bacon for those two institutions. Unlike in 2010, Republicans actually found a candidate to challenge Williams, Sally White of Thompson. Williams is from Brooklyn, in the center of the district. Williams is very popular and will win easily.
Contains the Litchfield Hills, New Milford, and some surrounding towns.
Pres-2008: Obama 54-45
Demographics: 92% White, 1% Black, 4% Hispanic
This seat is based in rural Litchfield County, and it is an open Republican-held seat. The incumbent, Andrew Roraback, is running for Congress in the 5th district. The candidates are St. Rep. Clark Chapin (R), of New Milford, who was unchallenged in 2010, and lawyer William Riiska (D), of Salisbury (which is a really nice town, by the way). This is not Riiska’s first run for elected office; he ran against a Republican incumbent for a State Assembly seat in 2010 and lost by only 35 votes; it was the closest any Democrat came to defeating a Republican incumbent in Connecticut that year. However, Chapin’s hometown of New Milford is the largest town in the district, and the district has a long history of voting for Republicans, so I think that Chapin has a small edge now. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Riiska won.
Contains Bristol and some nearby towns.
Pres-2008: Obama 57-42
Demographics: 89% White, 3% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat is based in Bristol but also contains several more conservative nearby towns. This seat was the only one where an incumbent was defeated in 2010; Tom Colapietro (D) was defeated by Jason Welch (R) 51-49. Welch is helped by gaining the conservative town of Thomaston in redistricting. Challenging Welch is Dave Roche (D), a union man. Welch has had two years to entrench himself, but the district leans Democratic. However, incumbency matters, so I’d say that Welch has a very tiny edge.
Contains some western suburbs of Waterbury.
Pres-2008: McCain 52-46
Demographics: 94% White, 1% Black, 3% Hispanic
This seat, based in the strongly Republican suburbs of Waterbury, is the only State Senate district in Connecticut that voted for John McCain. That should give you a pretty good idea of how Republican this area is. The incumbent here is Rob Kane (R), who matches his district by being one of the most conservative members of the State Senate. Kane was unopposed in 2010, however this year he has a challenger in James Gambardella (D). Despite that, the lean of the district means that Kane will cruise. I’d be surprised if he got anything below the high 50s.
Contains much of the lower Connecticut River Valley.
Pres-2008: Obama 58-40
Demographics: 94% White, 1% Black, 3% Hispanic
This seat, based in Middlesex County with the lower Connecticut River Valley, has been represented by Sen. Eileen Daily (D) for many years. However, she is retiring this year, and there is a wide field of candidates trying to succeed her. The Republican running is Art Linares of Westbrook. The Democratic primary here consists of Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam and St. Rep. James Crawford of Westbrook. Crawford won an incredibly close race in 2010 by only 23 votes, so it is understandable that he would want to move up. Additionally, there is a Green candidate running, Melissa Schlag. Interestingly, there was also a Green candidate in 2010 (but not the same person). The Green candidate won 2.5% that year, so there is a chance that they will be the spoiler, but this district is very used to voting for Democrats, and more likely, one of the Democrats will win.
Contains Wallingford, East Haven, most of North Haven, and part of Durham.
Pres-2008: Obama 55-44
Demographics: 88% White, 2% Black, 6% Hispanic
This seat, near New Haven, used to be just Wallingford, North Haven, and East Haven. Then its incumbent, Sen. Len Fasano (R) (You were waiting for this, weren’t you?), who was on the redistricting commission, took out the most Democratic precinct in North Haven, gave it to District 11, and added half of the moderate town of Durham. Fasano is a longtime incumbent who is not used to being challenged, and in 2010, not only was he unchallenged but got the Working Families Party ballot line as well! However, the good news is that he is being challenged this year. And his challenger, once again, is a former state representative who was defeated in 2010; this time Steve Fontana (D). Both Fontana and Fasano are from North Haven, the most Republican town in the district. Fasano has a lot of goodwill built up, and it will probably take a few tries before he’s defeated, but at least we’re moving in the right direction here.
Contains most of Tolland County and parts of the Quiet Corner.
Pres-2008: Obama 58-41
Demographics: 92% White, 2% Black, 3% Hispanic
This seat is a half-suburban, half-rural seat in northeastern Connecticut. This is my district, and ever since I moved here I have been represented by the same person in the Senate: Tony Guglielmo (R), of Stafford. This is the only district in eastern Connecticut that is represented by a Republican in the State Senate. Guglielmo is similar to Fasano in that both are longtime incumbents who are not used to being challenged, and when they are challenged, they are used to winning hugely. Guglielmo hadn’t been challenged since 2002 when he was challenged in 2010 by Susan Eastwood (D), an environmental advocate. Eastwood’s 37% that year was the best any challenger had gotten against Guglielmo in his entire career, and she actually won her home town of Ashford (by nine votes). Eastwood is back this year for a rematch. She is helped by better name recognition (from her run in 2010), and more Democrats voting. However, it is going to be hard to take out Guglielmo. I would not be surprised if Eastwood hit 45%, but it is unlikely that she’ll get to 50.
Contains Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan.
Pres-2008: Obama 53-46
Demographics: 82% White, 3% Black, 8% Hispanic
This seat, based in ultra-rich southwestern Connecticut, is represented by Sen. L. Scott Frantz (R). Although it may seem like this district isn’t that Republican, Obama significantly overperformed here. Think of this district as containing 100,000 Mitt Romneys, and you’ll get the feel of it. Frantz received 62% in 2010, and he is being challenged by Daniel Duplaise (D) this year. Frantz is a strong, well-entrenched, and rich (what a surprise!) incumbent, and he will win easily.
So, in sum, that’s:
15 SAFE DEM (1,2,3,5,6,9,10,11,15,17,20,23,25,27,29)
3 LIKELY/SAFE DEM (14,18,22)
2 LIKELY DEM (12,33)
2 LEAN DEM (4,13)
2 TOSSUP (7,19)
1 TOSSUP/LEAN REP (31)
3 LEAN REP (16,24,30)
3 LIKELY REP (26,34,35)
2 LIKELY/SAFE REP (8,36)
3 SAFE REP (21,28,32)
Questions, comments, and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.