Republicans win big in Wilton
The top line on the ballot was the top vote-getter in Wilton on Election Day as the town's Republican majority showed its muscle. While the town did not go with the winners in the national races, on the state level the support sent back two Republican incumbents and will send a new face to Hartford.
State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26th District) handily won a third term over her Democratic challenger, Carolanne Curry, defeating her in each of the towns in her district except Westport.
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143rd District) will embark on her second two-year term, and Republican Tom O'Dea of New Canaan will succeed John Hetherington in the 125th. Mr. Hetherington is retiring.
Wilton also supported presidential candidate Mitt Romney, U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon and congressional candidate Steve Obsitnik, all of whom were defeated.
President Barack Obama, who won a decisive victory nationally, was not as popular in Wilton, which he won in 2008. Congressman Jim Himes won his third term to represent the 4th District, and his colleague Congressman Chris Murphy will become Connecticut's new junior senator, taking over for Joseph Lieberman, who is retiring.
The registrar of voters race was uncontested.
Turnout was high, 86%, with 10,168 votes cast, including absentee ballots.
Ms. Boucher, who is the deputy minority leader in the senate, won convincingly in her hometown of Wilton with nearly 68% of the vote. Overall, an unofficial tally just before midnight put her ahead 28,702 to 20,517.
In a statement Ms. Boucher thanked her supporters, saying, "I never forget that they are providing me with a rare opportunity to represent their interests in bringing their voice to Hartford."
She also thanked Ms. Curry. "Challenging different beliefs is an important part of this debate on how to best serve the people of our great state," Ms. Boucher said.
The issues of jobs, the business environment, taxes, and an educational gap are serious problems facing the state, she said.
"Too many of our friends and neighbors are now forced to make the difficult decision to leave [Connecticut]," Ms. Boucher said. "The next session will be a difficult one. Many tough decisions will need to be made to revitalize our state's economy. We did it before and I am confident that if bipartisan efforts are embraced we can do it again."
Ms. Curry, who spent the evening at Democratic campaign headquarters on River Road in Wilton, described her campaign as "a tremendous opportunity that doesn't happen very often, to talk about issues important to the district. ... I had remarkable support from the Democratic town committees and volunteers, and I met some truly remarkable people," she said in an interview with The Bulletin.
In addition to Wilton, the 26th District includes New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Bethel.
With 63% of the vote in Wilton, Ms. Lavielle built a commanding lead in her victory over Wilton selectman Ted Hoffstatter.
At the Wilton Democratic headquarters, as the returns came in, Mr. Hoffstatter quoted the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die," he said. "When one journey ends, another begins."
Wilton results, along with unofficial numbers for Norwalk and Westport provided by the Democratic party, showed Ms. Lavielle garnered 59% of the total vote, winning 6,987 to 4,847. She won Norwalk 2,549 to 2,156, and Westport 510 to 414.
"On behalf of my constituents, it is frustrating to see Connecticut continue to move in a direction in which we are not controlling spending and we're not doing more to expand the tax base to increase jobs," Ms. Lavielle said as ballots came in to her favor at a private reception at the Norwalk Inn.
Businesses will continue to leave Connecticut as long as corporate taxes are comparatively higher than in surrounding areas, she said.
"It's time to change direction."
"I would like to congratulate my friend and neighbor, Gail Lavielle, on her victory tonight!" Mr. Hoffstatter said in an email to The Bulletin. "At the end of the day, we are teammates, elected to work together for the common good, and that is exactly what we will do. I retain my seat as a selectman, and as Gail sits on the Board of Finance, I am confident we will work together for a fiscally conservative budget that maintains the services we expect here in Wilton.
"This campaign has been positive from day one, and it has been an amazing experience for me and my family," he continued. "That is what it is all about for me. Family, community and public service runs in my blood. I promise that I will continue to work in a positive, constructive way for our community, and you can be sure this is not my last campaign!
"This is not an end but a beginning."
Mr. O'Dea will begin his freshman year with the support of both towns in his district. In Wilton he won 56% of the vote over Democrat Mark Robbins and David Bedell of the Green Party.
In New Canaan, Mr. O'Dea won 4,992 votes, Mr. Robbins 2,317 and Mr. Bedell 130.
"I ran a positive campaign that I'm very proud of, and I'm humbled by the support I've been given," Mr. O'Dea told The Bulletin's sister paper, The New Canaan Advertiser. "I'm hopeful to represent New Canaan and Wilton in Hartford and follow in John Hetherington's footsteps."
Many media outlets, including Hersam Acorn Newspapers, declared Jim Himes the winner in the 4th District by 10:14 Tuesday night. It was a clean-cut victory, with none of the drama in 2010 when the city of Bridgeport ran out of ballots.
Although Mr. Himes did not prevail in Wilton, he came close, winning 49% of the vote.
As of Wednesday morning, with 75.6% of the vote reported, Mr. Himes had defeated Westport businessman Steve Obsitnik, by a 59.4% to 40.6% margin.
Mr. Himes called it a "tough and long campaign," particularly since the election was held in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left so many Connecticut residents without power and with damaged homes. He said the recovery from the storm showed people can come together to help each other, and he pledged to take that attitude back to Washington.
"In the midst of that storm, you saw what I saw," Mr. Himes said. "You saw a cord extended from one generator to a neighbor's generator so they could both have electricity. You saw people going into homes to ask, 'Are you OK?' You saw people helping our senior citizens, saying, 'What can I do for you?' This is the idea in the greatest nation in the planet, where we all stand for individual liberty and freedom but we all recognize that we are at our best when we recognize we have a duty toward each other."
Mr. Himes said he heard from people throughout the campaign that Congress needed to work more on the economic recovery and provide opportunity to "each and every person in this district and each and every person in this country."
In conceding, Mr. Obsitnik thanked his family and all his supporters. He said he was proud of "stepping forward" because he saw a need in the country to create an environment where small businesses and entrepreneurs can survive and thrive again.
"We know we need leadership in Washington now more than ever," Mr. Obsitnik said. "The bipartisanship needs to happen and the partisanship has to stop. That's the central topic that everyone asked me along the way — How do you get stuff done in Washington? Our focus has to be on jobs and creating an environment where we compete as a state and as a nation in this world."
He added, "We may have had a tough time tonight, but I encourage you all to stay involved, play hard, work hard, and together we will win as a nation."
Mr. Himes praised Mr. Obsitnik, calling him a "good man who gave tremendous service to this country and ran a good campaign."
The race for U.S. Senate in Connecticut was called even earlier, with the Associated Press giving Mr. Murphy the win at 8:27 p.m. over pro wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
Many polls had shown a tight race going into Election Day, but ultimately it was a blowout for Mr. Murphy, a three-term congressman, who, as of Wednesday morning, had a margin of victory of 55.3% to 43% with 88.4% of Connecticut precincts reporting.
After this race and her 2010 run, Ms. McMahon owns an unfortunate distinction, having reportedly spent the most personal money on runs for federal office without winning.
"Tonight's victory by Chris shows that we have elections in Connecticut, not auctions," Gov. Dannell Malloy said Tuesday night. "Chris is a smart, decent, thoughtful guy, and he's exactly the right kind of person to represent the people of Connecticut in the U.S. Senate."
Of her efforts, Ms. McMahon said this was "a campaign I will look back on with no regrets, not a stone unturned."
"I would not have done anything differently," Ms. McMahon said, thanking her staff and her volunteers Tuesday night.
Mr. Murphy congratulated Ms. McMahon on a "hard-fought race" and said he was "proud to stand here as your United States senator."
"What this race was about is the idea that the promise will be real for generations to come," Mr. Murphy said. "This race was about the idea that in the most powerful, most affluent country in the world, health care shouldn't be something you get if you can afford it. It should be a human right. It was about the idea that government can help to create good jobs, the idea that manufacturing is not dead, the idea that we should start helping companies that aren't outsourcing jobs but are helping to create jobs in this country, the idea that it is time to start investing in the people of this country and the idea that it's time to bring our men and women home from Afghanistan."
The local takeaway
"I think at the very least that Wilton demonstrates that the body politic is sensibly fiscal conservative and fiscally responsible," Wilton Republican Town Committee Chairman Al Alper said Tuesday night.
Of Mr. Obsitnik he said, "Steve really mounted a hard-fought campaign. Jim Himes presented himself in stark contradiction to his record and regrettably there is no court of appeals to which the electorate can go to seek redress to compare his record to his rhetoric. ... The man who ran for Congress is not the man he is in Congress."
Not surprisingly, Wilton Democratic Chairman John Kalamarides saw things differently.
"We're absolutely thrilled Jim Himes won re-election," he said. "He's done a great job for every person in the 4th District."
Although they did not win on the local level, Mr. Kalamarides said, "our candidates really were good candidates. They ran very good campaigns. They ran on the issues. I was very proud of them.
"I think that Wilton is just such a deeply Republican area that it will take a while for Democrats to make the issues come out and ... we're just going to come right back and try and show people our kind of government is going to work nicely."
"We really upped our game," said Deborah McFadden, vice chair and campaign chair of the Wilton Democratic Town Committee. "The candidates did a great job. Also, I live in the 125th District and I was thrilled to have the choice to vote for Mark Robbins, who was an excellent candidate."
— Joan Lownds and Ken Borsuk contributed to this story