Big Night For New Haven Dems

Thomas Breen PhotoNew Haven’s voting officials may have ended up as national embarrassments Tuesday after a day of election disasters, but New Haven’s Democratic elected officials emerged as big winners.

New Haven’s state legislators, all of whom are Democrats, cruised to reelection. The list: State Reps. Pat Dillon, Toni Walker, Robyn Porter, Roland Lemar, Al Paolillo Jr., Juan Candelaria; State Sens. Gary Winfield and Martin Looney. New Haven U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro cruised to a 15th two-year term. (Two ballot propositions, to put transportation revenues in a constitutional “lockbox” and to create a deliberative process for selling state parkland, also passed.)

And because Democrats were sweeping to victory in legislative races statewide, Looney will return to Hartford in January as the president of the State Senate. The only president.

Because the Senate was evenly split 18-18 last session, Looney shared president duties with Republican State Sen. Len Fasano.

By 11 p.m. Tuesday, it was clear Democrats will regain a solid majority. They had won 21 seats, with a few more possible after recounts or tabulation of absentee ballots.

Looney was pumped to return to Hartford for his 14th two-year Senate term (which followed six two-year state House terms).

“I’m raring to go with the excitement of having a majority again,” he said in an interview.

What will that mean for New Haven constituents?

“Assuming that [Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Ned Lamont wins, we will be able to pursue initiatives like paid family and medical leave, $15 minimum wage, additional criminal justice reforms,” Looney said.

(Wednesday Looney discussed the election with reporters at the state Capitol. See Christine Stuart’s video above.)

The Democrats were also widening their majority in the state House, winning at least 83 seats with another 16 races to be decided. The party’s slim 80-71 majority, coupled with the deadlocked Senate, prevented the Democrats from passing their own version of a budget last term, not to mention legalizing recreational use of marijuana or other New Haven Democratic priorities.

It wasn’t clear late Tuesday night how soon the gubernatorial tally would be settled. Cities like New Haven were far away from completing their voting tallies because of widespread tabulation machine malfunctions due to wet-handed voters coming in from the rain.

Allan Appel PhotoBy 11:30, new machines finally arrived at Westville’s Ward 26 polling spot (Mauro-Sheridan School), where workers were hand-feeding 1,800 ballots to be tabulated; and in East Rock’s Ward 9 (Wilbur Cross High School).

Thomas Breen photoWard 9 Moderator Naomi Campbell received a new tabulator from Atwater assistant registrar Jayuan Carter just before 11 p.m. Campbell refused to share how many total ballots had been submitted before she and her staff started tabulating the results, pulling each ballot sheet from a foot-tall black duffel bag (pictured above) stationed on a nearby chair.

She said that there was no way for her to know how many total ballots had been submitted because of the prior machine’s broken printer.

“You’re really pushing my buttons,” she said in response to a question about the new tabulator. “How do you think we feel? We’re tired. Give us a break.”

A long night remained for polls workers there and in Dwight, lower Westville, and the Hill.

But the early returns in New Haven were bright for Democrats. An Independent tally of reported results from a majority of wards—where the machines weren’t still broken—showed Lamont leading Republican Stefanowski 19,496 to 3,535. And all the remaining wards to be counted are heavily Democratic. Another estimated 1,700 absentee ballots remain to be counted, along with all the same-day registration-and-voting ballots.

By 2:30 a.m. Lamont was matching Democrat Dannel P. Malloy’s crucial 18,000-vote New Haven victory margin over his Republican opponents in 2010 and 2014, with several wards still left to report results.

Democratic Town Chair Vin Mauro Jr. estimated that New Haven could end up with as many as 29,000 votes cast, three to four thousand more than the number cast in the past two gubernatorial elections.

But given the record of past closely contested elections, no one was assuming any results until the votes were fully counted. Which, thanks to another disastrous year at New Haven’s polls, could mean a statewide wait.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 7, 2018  12:18am

The politicians and sell out leaders are the Decepticons.We the people are the Autobots.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 7, 2018  5:49am

One party rule ...controlling the wards - group think - of course they cruised to victory. Now get ready for more tax increases. Malloy hit us hard. These cats will make that look like chump change.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on November 7, 2018  7:51am

I’ve staffed the polls in the past - I want to thank the poll workers who put in a very, very long day. But I was at Ward 9 when the polls closed, to call the results in. The moderator was not responsible for the machine breakdown, nor for deciding how to deal with. But she was remarkably uncommunicative.

Wet ballots were a problem at locations across the country. Perhaps next time, someone will think of bring rolls of paper towels to allow voters to dry their hands so that their ballots do not gum up the tabulators.

posted by: JayC on November 8, 2018  1:12pm

If you really find it hard to understand how our election process has come to this sad and disgraceful state, I respectfully suggest that there are at least two reasons:  (1)  As a state and nation, we unfortunately decided that the old system of using simple, efficient and tamper-proof mechanical lever machines with locked vote counter systems, should be replaced by new, delicate, fragile, electronic machines through which paper ballots have to be run.  As another reader has already asked: How did we manage to agree to go backwards? (2) We have persisted with the age-old system of having the Registrars of Voters (political party designees - NOT trained and certified technical professionals) in charge of our machines and our elections.  With the old machines, it worked. It doesn’t work any more.

posted by: Brian McGrath on November 8, 2018  1:14pm

Continuous negative comments about one party rule and Judas goats are illogical and tiresome. Just because New Haven’s wards are full of Democrats does not equate to the party being guilty of anything for offering a public service of driving people who cannot afford cars to the polls. If there is a one party rule, tell me how the Trumpster got elected. A great many of New Haven’s Democrats would love to have a nice house in a Republican suburb, but they cannot afford it. They CAN afford to protect their limited economic interests by voting however, so lay off the griping.