New 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.
By 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).
Ward 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.